This Wednesday and Thursday, President Bush’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics – the group slated with the task of “reviewing” Title IX – will hold its final meeting to discuss their recommendations for the landmark law that banned gender discrimination in federally-funded education. A coalition of women’s rights groups will be staging a rally to ensure that the commission – stacked with opponents to Title IX – does not take away educational opportunities for women and girls. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation will be joined by Martha Burk, president of the National Council for Women’s Organizations and Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, to lead this important event.
“If the commission’s recommendations are implemented the federal government will officially be endorsing the idea that ‘no discrimination’ as promised by Title IX and a host of other civil rights laws means something less than full equality for all,” Smeal said. “If women and girls are shut out of athletic participation because of the commission’s report, the same rationale could be used to reverse the gains women have made in science, math and graduate schools.”
As the commission’s recommendations stand currently, women and girls will lose thousands of opportunities to participate in athletics and thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Members of the commission appear to believe that women are inherently less interested in sports than men and that women deserve fewer resources than men. The history of Title IX, however, shows that the more opportunities women get, the more they will play. Since the law was passed in 1972, Title IX has dramatically increased opportunities in athletics for women and girls. In 1972, fewer than 300,000 girls played high school sports. Now, 2.7 million girls participate in such teams, according to the Department of Education. Before Title IX, young women accounted for 7 percent of students participating in high school sports; by 2000, girls were 41.5 percent of students participating in high school sports.
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