No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational programs or activity receiving federal financial assistance. . . .-- from the preamble to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Title IX, as a landmark civil rights law, profoundly affects all aspects of schooling by requiring equal opportunity for females and males. By extension, it also affects equity in the labor market. The following highlights suggest many of the significant developments in gender equity that can be linked to Title IX.
Since its passage in 1972, Title IX has had a profound impact on helping to change attitudes, assumptions and behavior and, consequently, our understanding about how sexual stereotypes can limit educational opportunities. We now know, for example, that gender is a poor predictor of one's interests, proficiency in academic subjects, or athletic ability. As the First Circuit Court of Appeals noted in a recent Title IX case, "interest and ability rarely develop in a vacuum; they evolve as a function of opportunity and experience." Decision making in schools and in the labor market that relies on gender to assess what students and employees know and are able to do is both archaic and ineffective.
Everyone Benefits from Title IX
Title IX prohibits institutions that receive federal funding from practicing gender discrimination in educational programs or activities. Because almost all schools receive federal funds, Title IX applies to nearly everyone. The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education is charged with enforcing the civil rights and regulations in education, extending protection to:
- about 51.7 million elementary and secondary school students;
- about 14.4 million college and university students;
- approximately 16,500 school districts;
- approximately 7,000 post-secondary institutions;
- more than 5,000 proprietary schools; and
- thousands of libraries, museums, vocational rehabilitation agencies, and correctional facilities.
When Title IX is mentioned, most people think about women and athletics. However, Title IX is about so much more; it also covers acts that can impact educational opportunities for all, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, dating and intimate partner violence (dating and domestic violence).