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Education Equality

Addressing Threats to Title IX

Slow Progress is Being Reversed
Some of the improved guidance from the Office for Civil Rights in the US Department of Education (ED) and the Civil Rights Division in the US Department of Justice was reversed in 2017 by the federal withdrawal of the 2016 guidance on the civil rights of transgender students, the 2011 guidance on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence, and the 2014 guidance on preventing campus sexual assault. Many have objected to these withdrawals and the 2017 Education Department substitute interim guidance for sexual harassment and assault. Additional concerns about vigorous enforcement of all aspects of Title IX are also emerging. Our Title IX Defined web page will retain these rescinded guidance documents. States and other recipients of federal financial assistance are starting to incorporate them into their own laws and policies and members of Congress are proposing their restoration in new federal legislation.

Insufficient Federal Funding
Inadequate federal support and neglect has threatened the effectiveness of Title IX. This has resulted in poor understanding and implementation by educators, parents, students. During its 45+ year history, there has been no comprehensive attention to involving all federal, state, school district and school level education agencies in paying coordinated attention to fulfilling their requirements to ensure compliance with this federal law at all levels of education from pre-school to postsecondary education. In particular there has been relatively little attention to the appointment and training of Title IX Coordinators (see 2004 FMF news article and our Title IX Coordinators web page.)

Although sporadic federal funds and resources from the US Department of Education and other agencies have been available for some aspects of Title IX such as STEM and the NotAlone.gov to help combat sexual harassment and violence, there has been little support for researchers and equity advocates to share their expertise within and across Title IX topics. Sadly, the 1974 Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA), the only federal legislation with the sole purpose of promoting full implementation of Title IX, was never adequately funded.

In August 2010, FMF, NOW, and other organizations proposed a major reauthorization of WEEA under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Click here to see this 2010 reauthorization proposal which focused on federal support for Title IX Coordinators and equity advocates to support compliance with the increasingly complex responsibilities to end sex discrimination under Title IX.

Although, this 2010 WEEA reauthorization proposal was not introduced, many of its features have been included in the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2016 (GEEA) or the similar Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2017 [S 1421 and HR 3828] introduced both by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Louise Slaughter. GEEA will re-establish and improve federal support for Title IX by rebuilding a national infrastructure to help over 100, 000 Title IX Coordinators and other equity advocates fulfill their required responsibilities to fully implement Title IX and reduce and prevent sex discrimination in all areas of education.

Representative Patsy Mink was an original sponsor of Title IX and the 1974 Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA) which was the only federal legislation focused solely on the implementation of Title IX and gender equity in education. However, WEEA was never adequately funded. Its highest appropriation of $10 million was in 1980 and there was no funding in the past several years. Although WEEA was included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 2001 known as the No Child Left Behind Act, it wasn’t explicitly included in the 2015 reauthorization of the ESEA or the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

GEEA will help coordinate and manage national activities to support Title IX by establishing an Office for Gender Equity whose director will report directly to the Secretary of Education and an Office for Gender Equity resource center website. The Office for Gender Equity would also administer competitive grants to support training, assistance, and even assessment of Title IX Coordinator support. The bulk of the requested $80 million in annual GEEA funding would be reserved for local Title IX implementation grants to State Education Agencies, Local Education Agencies, Institutions of Higher Education, elementary or secondary schools, and partnerships with national organizations with expertise in gender equity. To foster long lasting effectiveness and continual improvement, GEEA includes a research and development component to identify and disseminate best practices to effectively and efficiently fully implement Title IX and reduce and prevent sex discrimination and gender stereotyping in all areas of education including educational materials.

Athletics Guidance Restored
In April 2010 the Obama Administration Withdrew the Bush-Era 2005 Athletics Guidance Which Weakened Title IX Compliance Standards.
In March 2005, the Department of Education released a policy clarification letter weakening the requirements of Part Three of the three-part test that provides guidance on the Title IX regulations to eliminate sex discrimination in intercollegiate athletics. The Department attended to public pressure in 2003 when they rejected similar weakening provisions recommended by The Secretary of Education’s Commission on Equal Opportunity in Athletics. This threat has now ended. To view the 2010 guidance, click here. More...

Sex Segregation
 
In March 2004, the Bush Administration proposed changes to the Title IX Regulations that would make it easier to have sex-segregated classes and schools with no guarantee of equality. The Office for Civil Rights in the US Department of Education received over 5,000 public comments on the proposal. An estimated 96% of these comments were opposed to the Department's proposal to increase sex segregation in education instead of decreasing sex discrimination, the sole purpose of Title IX. On October 25, 2006 the Department issued Title IX Regulations which are similar to its proposed 2004 draft Regulations. In December, 2014, ED issued guidance on how single-sex education should be implemented so that it does not discriminate on the basis of sex. More...

Title IX Critic Appointed to US Circuit Court of Appeals
 
Thomas B. Griffith, who recommended eliminating the proportionality part of the three-prong test while on the Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, is now serving on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Numerous progressive groups opposed Griffith's June 2005 lifelong appointment because of his views on Title IX and other laws over which the DC Appeals Court has jurisdiction.

 

Produced by the Feminist Majority Foundation's Education Equality Program
www.feminist.org/education 10/31/2017 ©2017