Nobody can dispute that girls and women have made tremendous strides in the sports world since the implementation of Title IX in 1972. Title IX requires schools at all levels across the country to offer girls and women equal access to any educational program or activity that receives federal funding, including athletics. Most schools have done a nice job following the spirit and letter of that law. However, there are still hundreds of schools that don’t abide by Title IX. As a result, thousands of girls and young women are still discriminated against on our playing fields and in our gymnasiums. See “Long Fights for Sports Equity, Even With a Law,” New York Times.

The sad reality is that the vast majority of the schools — high schools and colleges — that are breaking federal law in regards to Title IX will never get caught. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has the authority to enforce the law, however, the OCR is understaffed and overwhelmed with a variety of cases under their purview, including disability, age, and race discrimination. The office routinely asks schools to investigate themselves when they receive an athletics-based Title IX complaint.

Basically, our schools are on the “honor system” when it comes to Title IX enforcement.

“Unfortunately, what we see is that many schools are getting away with providing fewer opportunities to girls because they don’t do what they’re supposed to unless made to,” said Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

There’s hope. Observers agree that Title IX enforcement has improved under the Obama administration. Russlynn Ali, head of the OCR said progress is being made but she’s not satisfied with her organization’s level of enforcement yet.

“Some progress is not enough progress when it comes to ensuring that this country protects students from discrimination.,” said Ali.


Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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