Women’s rights leaders today led a press conference to set the record straight about the serious threats to Title IX, the landmark 1972 law that mandates gender equity in federally funded education, including athletic programs in public high schools and colleges. The Commission for Educational Opportunities – appointed by President Bush to “review” Title IX – voted yesterday to allow interest surveys to be used as a tool in enforcing Title IX and to redefine proportionality to allow more discrimination. Both measures significantly weaken the enforcement of Title IX.
“The Bush administration is conducting a stealth attack on Title IX, and women and girls cannot and must not let them get away with it,” said Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority president. She was joined by Martha Burk, president of the National Council of Women’s Organizations; Jacqueline Woods, executive director of the American Association of University Women; Marcia Greenberger, president of the National Women’s Law Center; Terry O’Neill, vice-president of the National Organization for Women; and April Osajima, public policy director for Girls’ Inc.
“The purpose of this commission’s actions is to reduce girls’ opportunities – let there be no mistake about it,” Smeal said. “Today, it’s athletics; tomorrow, it’s the whole Title IX.” Smeal suggested that the Bush Commission’s attack on girls and women in sports may be the opening salvo in a broader attack on Title IX and the opening of opportunities for women in law, medicine, and other traditionally male-dominated professions.
The Commission for Educational Opportunities will present its final report on Title IX to Education Secretary Roderick Paige on February 28. With a commission largely made up of opponents to Title IX, the report is expected to recommend a weakening of the law.