Monday, June 6, 2016

Apple #732: Title IX History and Overview

I love Title IX.  Thanks to this law, there was a girls' softball team at my high school for which I could play.  We weren't very good because our school didn't put much money into softball as compared to, say, football or swimming, so our coaches were pretty much deer-in-the-headlights and so we sucked.  But at least I got to play.  Prior to Title IX, there wouldn't have been any such team.

Photo of a rally in support of Title IX held in 1979.  For a long time, the only context in which people talked about Title IX was women's sports. But it has affected way more than just athletics.
(Photo sourced from Women's Sports Foundation)

Title IX has emerged in the news over the past few years as the basis from which groups of college women are demanding that their schools get better at handling allegations of sexual assault on campus.  I say, more power to 'em, literally. When I was an undergrad, the prevailing attitude was, hey, you put a bunch of late-teens, early-twenties kids together and give them alcohol, of course women are going to get raped. What are you gonna do?  That attitude, in my opinion, is a reprehensible abdication of responsibility, and it has got to change.  Title IXers, for working to change this culture to make college campuses safer for everyone, I applaud you.

More recently still, Title IX is the policy behind which various governmental institutions are requiring that public bathrooms accommodate transgender people.  There's been a lot of outcry against this, and as far as I can tell, the primary argument is that pedophiles and perverts will use this license to wreak havoc on our innocent ones when they are perhaps most vulnerable and defenseless.   To this I say, if the problem is the pedophiles and the perverts, maybe we should be doing something about them, as opposed to discriminating against the transgender among us?

In short, there have been a lot of references to and invocations of Title IX in a variety of contexts.  Hearing it so often has made me wonder, Title 9 of what?  What's Title 8?  Where did this thing come from, and whom should I thank for making it a rule in this country that people have to abide by?

  • The person to thank, apparently, is Richard M. Nixon.
  • Title IX is one part of Public Law 92-318, which was signed into law by President Nixon on June 23, 1972.

Richard Nixon, signing something into law
(Photo sourced from Pinterest, which is not so reliable at providing provenance)

  • Another person to thank is Patsy Mink. She was Japanese-American, and a Congressional Representative from Hawaii, and she helped draft the language that would become Title IX, and she pushed for its passage.

At center: Patsy Mink, first Asian American and woman of color to serve in the US Congress, was a key force in the passage of what we now call Title IX.
(Photo sourced from the Women's Sports Foundation)

  • The law is broken up into parts-- well, Titles, then Parts, then Sections.  So if you wanted to refer to some major part of the bill, you might refer to it by the Title under which it is organized. 
  • The general purpose of the law was to amend various existing laws having to do with education, from elementary schools all the way through higher education, and including vocational education.  The goal was to expand opportunities to education to people of all backgrounds across the country.
  • More specifically, Public Law 92-318 set aside hundreds of millions of dollars -- literally -- in the form of grants or loans that could be applied for by all sorts of people.  In many cases provisions for these grants were already in place but this law expanded the range of people who could apply, or re-upped the funding, or increased the amount of funding.  

 TITLES I through VII

  • Most of the titles within the law dealt with this funding in support of new or increased educational opportunities.
  • Grants or loans were funded or expanded upon for all sorts of educational purposes, including
    • nurses who wanted to go to college
    • veterans of Vietnam (the law says "Indochina") and Korea who wanted to go to college
    • students in vocational education schools
    • people who wanted to study the causes of environmental pollution
    • training for people who want to become librarians, or resources to be purchased by libraries
    • fellowships and internships for people who want to teach at the higher education level
    • students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who want to go to college
    • tutors of educationally disadvantaged children
    • training of teachers, teachers' aides, and teachers of migrant children
    • schools that serve Native American (the law says "American Indian") children, particularly those with special education needs, and also schools that provide education to adult Native Americans 
    • the study and teaching of the ethnic heritages of all sorts of ethnic groups in the country, along with bilingual assistance where appropriate
    • the development of educational TV programs for children (Sesame Street started in 1969, but this funding certainly would have supported its continuation)
    • people who want to go to school to pursue a career in public service 
    • work-study and community service programs
    • undergraduates who want to study a foreign language or travel to a foreign country for educational purposes
    • new or financially struggling undergraduate or community colleges that are trying to improve or expand their teaching staff
    • the construction of new undergraduate, community, and technical colleges 
    • the construction or rebuilding of schools in major disaster areas 
  • It also established the Student Loan Marketing Association, a private corporation funded with an initial $5M in government start-up money, that would serve as the marketplace for student loans insured by the government. This made loans to would-be college students much easier to come by because before this Association -- what we now call Sallie Mae, and what many people curse up and down and left and right -- it was really difficult to get a loan to pay for college because banks saw it as a bad risk. 
  • It encouraged the reform of postsecondary education so the schools would be run in a more cost-effective manner, the retention of more members of faculty, and expansion into new areas of study such as communications.
  • It directed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to conduct a full and complete investigation of youth camps around the country to determine to what extent any injuries that happen to children there are preventable, and how could local laws be modified to improve safety. (Investigations of sexual abuse were not spelled out but in retrospect, one wishes it had been.)
  • So the law covered a boatload of expansions aimed at improving educational opportunities all over the place. 

TITLE VIII - No Money for Busing (almost there)

  • Title VIII seems out of keeping with the nature of the rest of the law.  This title specifically and categorically states that no funding whatsoever could be used to pay for busing students to another district in support of desegregation.  
    • It's pretty remarkable how the language of the law in this title changes to No all over the place, where before it had been a lot of "shall".

The debate about whether children should be bused to different schools to counteract segregation was hotly contested across the country. Here is one protest against forced busing in Boston.  Looks familiar, doesn't it?
(Photo sourced from U.S. History in Context)

  • We don't normally think of Nixon as a champion of the rights of the disadvantaged, but he was royally ticked off about this part of the law.  When he signed the bill into law, he didn't talk about all the great things the law was doing; instead, he listed all the stuff he'd asked Congress to do but they hadn't.  He said, 
  • In the amendments dealing with the busing of public school children, however, this measure is most obviously deficient. Had these disappointing measures alone come to this office--detached from the higher education reforms--they would have been the subject of an immediate veto.  
  • We asked the Congress to draw up new uniform national desegregation standards for all school districts--South, North, East, and West. The Congress determined to allow the existing inequities and injustices to remain.
  • We asked the Congress to provide uniform guidance to Federal judges so that court-ordered busing to integrate public school systems would be used only as a last--never a first--resort. The Congress apparently declines to provide such guidance. 
  • He went on like this, with more "We asked the Congress"es followed by statements saying, They didn't do it.  He finished his remarks with this:
  • Confronted with one of the burning social issues of the past decade, and an unequivocal call for action from the vast majority of the American people, the 92d Congress has apparently determined that the better part of valor is to dump the matter into the lap of the 93d. Not in the course of this Administration has there been a more manifest Congressional retreat from an urgent call for responsibility.
  • End of remarks. He might as well have done a mic drop.

TITLE IX - Here we are

  • In the midst of all this stuff about what shall be funded and how much should this program get and how shall it be administered is the part you've all been waiting for, "TITLE IX -- Prohibition of Sex Discrimination," and it begins
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
  • That's it.
  • Among page after page of language about how much money should go to this group and that group, and how it should be awarded, and how it should be insured, and what administrative bodies should be created to carry out this and that provision -- then appears this one sentence that may have changed more lives for more generations than all the rest of it put together.
  • There are some exceptions (schools with a religious affiliation, schools with longstanding single-sex admissions) and there have been some amendments that add a few more exceptions (fraternities and sororities, father-son or mother-daughter activities).
  • There's also a bit that says the same thing about the blind -- no discrimination by schools that receive federal money. Why and how this provision got put under a provision having to do with sex discrimination, I cannot explain.
  • But out of that one sentence, here are just some of the things that have come about:
  • Athletics -- girls in high school varsity athletics
      • 1971: 295,000
      • 2001: 2.8 million, or 41.5% of all varsity athletes
  • Athletics -- women in college athletics
      • 1966: 16,000
      • 2001: 150,000, or 43% of all college athletes
  • Academics -- women earning law degrees
      • 1972: 7% women
      • 1997: 44% women
  • Academics -- women earning medical degrees
      • 1972: 9% women
      • 1997: 41% women
  • Academics -- pregnant girls and women
      • 1972: usually expelled from school
      • post-Title IX: schools are not allowed to expel pregnant girls and women, and if they do provide separate classes for expecting mothers, participation must be voluntary and the programs must provide comparable education
  • Academics -- programs of study
      • 1972: girls encouraged to become wives, mothers, secretaries, nurses, or teachers, while boys were encouraged to study math and science and "harder" subjects
      • post-Title IX: significant gender disparity still exists, but the number of girls taking upper-level math and science classes is on the rise, and schools are launching concerted efforts to attract girls and women to STEM courses and programs of study.
  • Academics -- standardized testing
      • 1972: girls consistently scored lower than boys
      • post-Title IX: gender disparity still exists, but if a standardized test results in consistently lower scores for members of one sex, it can be challenged as unlawful.
  • Sexual harassment in schools
      • 1972: for those women who did go to college, if they were harassed (or perhaps I should say when they were harassed) they could expect little or no redress from the authorities at their school
      • post-Title IX: the Supreme Court ruled that schools and colleges are required to prevent and respond to harassment against girls and women, regardless of whether that objectionable behavior is done by peers, teachers, or administrators. It is also under this aegis that women are seeking to compel colleges and universities to curtail and punish campus rape.
  • Also springing from Title IX is the debate about which bathrooms transgender people should be allowed to use. 
      • (For one discussion of some of the complexities of this issue, see Jeannie Suk's opinion piece from The New Yorker; there are some elements that I for one had not considered. I do think it is worth underscoring this comment: "The common denominator in all of these scenarios is fear of attacks and harassment carried out by males—not fear of transgender people.")
      • It is too early to say how this debate will be resolved, but I think the fact that we are having this debate at all is a hopeful sign.
  • Girls and women still face gender disparity in all sorts of areas -- in the classroom, in hiring, in compensation, in what men say to women online or in person, in how politicians respond to their questions, and on and on.  
  • But we have made great progress thanks to Title IX.  Without Title IX, I probably wouldn't have an undergraduate and two graduate degrees. I might have had just as much curiosity, but not much of a venue where I could exercise it. I probably wouldn't be typing this right now.  Your Apple Lady probably would not exist.
  • And thanks to Title IX, we can continue to make more progress, to chip away at the institutional norms that bolster sexism and allow it to persist not just in education but throughout the entire lives of girls and women.
  • Thanks, Richard Nixon and Patsy Mink.

US Department of Education, Title IX and Sex Discrimination
The US Department of Justice, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Cornell Legal Information Institute, 20 US Code § 1681 - Sex
US GPO, Public Law 92-318 as enacted June 23, 1972
UC Santa Barbara, The American Presidency Project, Richard Nixon - Statement on Signing the Education Amendments of 1972, June 23, 1972
Title IX Info, History of Title IX
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, The Impact of Title IX
Athletic, Bridging the Gender Gap: The Positive Effects of Title IX
Title IX Info, Ten Key Areas of Title IX
Jeannie Suk, The Transgender Bathroom Debate and the Looming Title IX Crisis, The New Yorker, May 24, 2016