Members of Congress and prominent women athletes spoke out for preserving and strengthening Title IX at a hearing yesterday. Title IX is the 1972 law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education, including athletic programs. Chaired by Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY) and Rep. Hilda Solis (CA), the hearing drew nearly 200 people. “We’re here today to tell the Secretary of Education that Title IX does matter and it isn’t broken,” said Rep. Slaughter. “Equity is simply not negotiable.”
Slaughter and Solis were joined by Democratic Representatives Dale Kildee (MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Lynn Woolsey (CA), Rosa DeLauro (CT), Stephanie Tubb Jones (OH), Diane Watson (CA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Raul Grijalva (AZ), former Representative Pat Schroeder, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA). Professional soccer player Mia Hamm of the Washington Freedom and Olympic gold medallists Dominique Dawes and Nancy Hogshead-Makar testified about the continued importance of Title IX for women and girls. “The Commission for Opportunity in Athletics and the opponents of Title IX are attempting to circumvent the will of the courts, of the Congress, and of the people,” stated Hogshead-Makar. “Title IX is taking down the No Girls Allowed signs in the lockers rooms, the shop classes, and the career centers,” said Pelosi, praising the gains that women and girls have made in education under the auspices of Title IX. Rep. Slaughter closed the hearing by urging those in attendance to encourage their elected representatives to support Title IX. “We will do our part in Congress to protect Title IX, but you must do your part by telling the people that represent you that you support Title IX.”
The hearing today was held in response to the findings of the Commission for Opportunity in Athletics, which released its report to the Secretary of Education on February 26. The Commission’s findings ignore the continuing lack of participation opportunities and funding that women’s and girls’ athletics face in favor of recommendations that will increase males’ participation in athletics. The Commission suggested several sweeping changes to Title IX enforcement that could effectively eviscerate the gains women and girls have made in athletics.