The Commission for Opportunity in Athletics, appointed by the Bush Administration to examine Title IX, appears ready to recommend sweeping changes to Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 as it applies to athletics at its January 8 meeting in Washington, DC, USA Today reported. Title IX, which prohibits education institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender, 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.
Feminist groups across the country are calling for the Commission, largely composed of Title IX opponents, to leave Title IX untouched. “It is shocking to see this commission throw out 30 years of progress in such a casual way,” Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, told USA Today.
“Title IX must be kept intact and enforcement must be stepped up,” agreed Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Title IX is the reason women and girls have made dramatic advances in athletics, but we are not at equality yet. President Bush must not turn back the clock on women’s rights by weakening Title IX.”
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. “It is lack of opportunity, not interest that keeps the number of women athletes down,” Smeal said.
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