Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Title IX

The Obama administration is cleaning some brush left by the Bush administration. As you may remember, Bush The Son really launched a wholesale attack against Title IX, the law which bans gender discrimination in education. This is what Title IX sounds like:

"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 it became something only about college sports in the American collective mind is frightening and instructive.

Anyway, Vice-President Biden is going to make an announcement about how colleges can prove that they are in compliance with Title IX when it comes to college sports. The option Bush added to the older ways of proving compliance will be adjusted:

In 2005, the administration of former President George W. Bush changed the third requirement, allowing the university to prove it was meeting the athletic interests of women by carrying out surveys of students' interest in sports. The NCAA and women's sports advocates said a low response to such surveys could be interpreted as indicating a lack of interest in sports when actually it could indicate a lack of availability of sports activities.

Under the new policy, universities will no longer be able to claim that a low response to surveys means a low interest in sports, the official said. The new rules still will allow the use of surveys, but universities will have to go further to prove they are complying.

A book could be written (even by me) on the reasons why Title IX became all about sports, but a very tight summary of that book would state that the reasons would include a) the belief that men and women are inherently different and that men need sports, women not and b) the belief that men are discriminated against when male sports are cut to benefit women (who don't even want sports).

Of course nobody asks why something that is supposed to be only for men is offered by coed colleges and paid for by the tuition of everyone. Neither does anyone ask what women are offered if men get sports as an extra, or why offering men more athletic scholarships wouldn't discriminate against women in colleges.

I'm still much more concerned about Title IX in general, not its athletic applications. I always feared that the Bush administration would start something which could be used to deny girls places in shop or boys places in home economics.