Fifty years ago today, on Friday, June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law. Part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in education.
These protections are under assault like never before – from states and school districts across the country, but especially from federal agencies like the Department of Education.
The good news is that women are rallying to fight back, as a unique coalition of women’s organizations, conservative groups and feminists have joined together to keep protections for girls and women in place.
Groups like the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), Alliance Defending Freedom, The Heritage Foundation, Family Policy Alliance and Turning Point Action, Save Women’s Sports and the Women’s Liberation Front hosted a rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., “Our Bodies Our Sports.”
Madison Debos, a cross-country and track athlete for Southern Utah University, spoke at the event. She explained (28:25) that as a freshman:
I was just trying to figure it out. I quickly learned that to be competitive at this level, you had to learn to balance your academics and athletics. This meant early mornings, running twice a day, running 60-plus miles a week, lifting twice a week, staying on top of recovery, healing your body properly, all while getting your school work done.
What I wasn’t expecting, was on the first day of my freshman year, at practice, our coach told us that we would be racing a biological male. I remember looking around at my teammate’s faces, and the complete defeat across everyone’s face. We felt as if we were going into a losing race in a losing season.
No matter how hard we trained, and that we could be in premier shape, we could face a male runner – and have a fair chance of winning?
While racing at the Big Sky Conference Championships in the distance medley relay, she raced against this male, who goes by the name June Eastwood. She said the coach yelled at him to “slow down,” presumably to keep from outpacing the women so badly. Eastwood’s team took second, and he went on to win the mile, taking another podium spot from a woman.
University of Arizona swimmer Marshi Smith, who won PAC-10 and NCAA titles in the 100-yard backstroke, described (1:49:53) what she thought while watching a male-bodied swimmer at the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships:
This year, as I watched the same swim meet that was one of the highlights of my life turn into an international spectacle, I was next to my own 6-year-old daughter. I was anguished, realizing she may actually have fewer opportunities to succeed in sports than I did.
I was not the only one feeling this way, I quickly found out. My Arizona teammates, my best friends, the women who became my sisters years ago, started texting and calling.
She said that she and her fellow swimmers sent a collaborative letter on behalf of the university alumni to the NCAA – surely the organization would pay attention. The letter included 47 Arizona women’s signatures, including American record holders, NCAA women of the year, Olympic gold and silver medalists, NCAA champions, and a five-time Olympic coach.
Smith said, “In the 91 days since sending our letter to the NCAA, entitled “Do We Have a Voice?”, there has been zero response.”
Other speakers for the event included Idaho State’s Madison Kenyon, who competed against a male athlete in college track; Chelsea Mitchell, Alana Smith and Selina Soule, who ran against male athletes in Connecticut’s high school girls track; and amateur skateboarder Taylor Silverman, who lost to a male in the women’s division of the Red Bull Cornerstone event.
Title IX is short and simple, consisting of 37 words:
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 educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
The federal civil rights law caused a profound transformation for girls and women, offering educational opportunities and profoundly changing women’s sports. The Richard Nixon Foundation explains,
When President Nixon signed into law the Education Amendments Act of 1972, few knew just how consequential Title IX would be. In just 37 words, Title IX launched a revolution in women’s sports.
Today, eight times as many young women are participating in college athletics than in 1972. In America’s high schools, more than 2.6 million young women are participating in sports, nine times as many as in 1972.
But Title IX is under assault today. Girls and women’s sports – along with privacy and safety in restrooms, showers and locker rooms – are threatened by boys and men who claim to be women.
Entering what should be sex-segregated, safe spaces for girls and women, these biological males take spots on teams and victories from females.
This administration’s Department of Education, which should be defending Title IX and protecting girls and women, has come down on the opposite side.
On this anniversary, while the DOE said it was commemorating “50 Years of Protecting and Advancing the Rights of All Students,” the federal agency proposed new regulations for Title IX and invited public comments.
The agency proposes redefining “sex discrimination” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The rule affects all schools that receive federal funds, and would mean women’s dormitories, restrooms, showers, locker rooms, clubs, activities and sports would be open to men who identify as women.
If you wish to speak out against these new regulations, contact Secretary Miguel Cardona and urge that the Department of Education immediately cancel plans to issue a new Title IX regulation. Telephone (202) 401-3000; fax (202) 260-7867; email [email protected].
Related articles and resources:
Watch the livestream of “Our Bodies Our Sports”
Collegiate Women Athletes File Motion to Keep Biological Males Out of Women’s Sports in Idaho
Female Athletes Ask NCAA for Fairness in Women’s Sports
International Swimming Federation (Mostly) Protects Women’s Aquatic Sports From Male Athletes
Louisiana Is Now the 18th State to Save Girls and Women’s Sports
President Signs ‘LGBTQI+ Pride Month’ Executive Order
Women Runners File Appeal – Majority of Americans Agree With Them: Males Should Stay Out of Women’s Sports
Photo from Twitter.