Bush recently decided to ignore the recommendations of a blue ribbon
commission that advocated altering the interpretation of Title IX.
While feminists breathed a collective sight of relief, the vast
majority of the country was oblivious to the meaning of Title IX
and how it affected our society.
IX was passed in 1972 and was modeled after Title VII of the 1964
Civil Rights Act. In vague and seemingly innocuous language it stated,
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.
the thirty years since the law's passage, numerous of negative consequences
have resulted, many of which have been documented in Jessica Gavora's
the Playing Field: Schools, Sports, Sex and Title IX. Written
in brisk and affable fashion, this book is also quite thorough in
detailing the abuses of Title IX.
most notorious, though hardly the only, consequence of Title IX
is its effect on male sporting teams. Following the Cohen vs.
Brown decision in 1995, Title IX has been interpreted to guarantee
that schools have the same proportion of male athletes to female
athletes as there is in the rest of the student body. To meet the
quotas, many schools are forced to cut men's programs and add new
women's programs. Across the country, men's sports programs are
cut and scholarships revoked just to comply with federal bureaucrats.
According to the Independent Women's Forum, between 1992, and 1999
43 wrestling teams, 53 golf programs, 16 baseball teams, 23 swimming
programs, and 39 tennis squadrons were cut to accommodate Title
IX regulations. During the same time period, only one Division 1-A
women's sports program was cut.
While men's teams and scholarships are disappearing, athletic directors
are on a painful search to find women to join varsity teams. The
rise of female crew teams provides a striking example. While men's
programs across the country were cut, the number of female crew
teams more than doubled between 1995 and 1999. This was not a result
of increased interest in women's rowing. During the same time period,
female high school crew programs dwindled. In order to reach their
quotas, colleges across the nation have given full scholarships
to female walk-on's who never rowed in their life. Many athletic
directors and coaches have resorted to walk up to any tall and athletic
looking girl and offer her a scholarship if she joins the varsity
accommodations made across the country, females make up 56% of undergraduates
across the country, while still only 41% of college athletes. This
15% gap translates to 59,000 male athletes who would be cut if quotas
were more rigorously enforced. The result would be that every football
program in the country would be eliminated; or alternatively every
men's golf, track, gymnastics, swim, water polo, and basketball
team would have to be dropped.
faced with these facts, feminists often claim that fault lies with
football not Title IX. They claim that men's football teams, often
with over a hundred players and coaches with six or seven digit
salaries, are to blame for the cut in other male athletic programs.
Gavora demolishes this claim. She points out that the majority of
Division I-A football teams earn revenue for other sports, while
with the exclusion of the Connecticut basketball team, no female
program turns a profit. The average NCAA women's basketball team
spends more than 10,000 dollars more per player than football teams.
IX's wrath is not confined to athletics. By the logic of the Brown
decision, quotas now applied to sports teams could be applied to
academic departments like drama, dance, engineering, and mathematics
where the number of males and females are disproportionate. While
not happening yet, the National Women's Law Center has filed a complaint
against the New York City school board on these grounds. They claim
that New York's vocational schools are "segregated" because
the schools that offer training for engineering classes are heavily
male, while ones that focused on nursing and cosmetology have more
federal courts and the Clinton Office of Civil Rights have used
Title IX to modify standardized tests. An anti-standardized test
group called Fair Test successfully sued ETS and made them add a
writing section and double the weight of the verbal section of the
PSATs. The ruling was justified by the "disparate impact"
theory of civil rights, which states that if a test or qualification
that benefits one particular group over another is discrimination.
Because girls made up 55% of the students who took the test and
only 40% of the National Merit Scholars, a distinction based on
PSAT scores, the test was deemed gender biased and ETS was forced
to change its content.
IX also extends into the social sphere of schools. Gavora demonstrates
how many of the witch-hunts over alleged sexual harassers and date
rapists at college campuses can be traced to Title IX. While the
perpetrators of these crimes were traditionally individuals, campuses
that create a "hostile environment" can now be sued for
sex discrimination. This has led to administrators going as far
as suspending a six-year-old boy for kissing another student on
Gavora is excellent at identifying the symptoms, she comes up short
with the cause and the cure. Gavora would be fairly characterized
as a moderate feminist. While deploring radical feminists, she praises
Berry Friedman's The Feminine
Mystique and generally sees the changing sex roles of women
since the 1950s as a positive development. Therefore, she considers
Title IX and other anti-discrimination measures to guarantee women
equal footing with men as necessary. Gavora views the outrages that
are thoroughly detailed in her book as unintended consequences of
Title IX. Acknowledging neoconservatives like Shelby Steele who
suggest that conservatives fight for the original meaning of the
1964 Civil Rights Act, she suggests that conservatives fight to
restore the "original intent" of Title IX and claim "moral
authority" over the radical feminists. While the excesses of
the law may be unintended, they are certainly inevitable.
is right to notice the similarities between the two laws both in
their language, and that both explicitly prohibited the use of quotas.
She also mentions that no less than a year after its passage, the
Civil Rights Act was interpreted to require quotas. It would not
take a clairvoyant to foresee that similar outcomes would inevitably
result from Title IX, but she fails to come to terms with this inescapability.
story of how quotas were implemented is a familiar one. Due to the
law's vague language, school administrators had a difficult time
figuring out if they were complying with the law. Consequently,
an ideologically motivated bureaucracy and court system was created
to enforce it as they saw fit. If anything, it is surprising that
it took nearly 25 years for explicit quotas to be required.
these flaws, Tilting the Playing Field is an excellent analysis
of the problems created by Title IX. Hopefully in time, Mrs. Gavora
will realize that the therapeutic bureaucracies created by Title
IX and other similar laws cannot be tamed and need to be put to
Epstein [send him mail] is
an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg,
VA, where he is president of the college libertarians and editor
of the conservative newspaper, The Remnant. A
selection of his articles can be seen here.