Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments is most known for increasing women’s participation in sports, but its primary gain was to increase all public-funded educational opportunities for girls and women. It prohibits sex discrimination and sexual harassment against girls and boys, women and men, students and employees, at all levels of education and in any education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The major gain of Title IX was to open the doors of higher education to women. Prior to Title IX, many colleges, graduate school programs and professional schools had quotas drastically limiting the number of women they admitted, and there were few scholarship opportunities for women. Much has changed, but despite progress, many inequities remain. Today women earn the majority of college degrees but are still underrepresented in many of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Because of a 2006 Bush administration regulation, there are increasing efforts to segregate girls and boys in public K-12 schools and academic classrooms, without adequate regard to educational equity for boys and girls, and despite a lack of evidence that it has a positive impact on learning.
President Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ Discriminatory 2017 Title IX policy on sexual misconduct in school, colleges and universities. The new policies promulgated in September of 2017 discriminate against female students and make it harder to learn in a safe environment. DeVos reversed the Obama-Biden Policies on Campus Sexual Assault investigations. DeVos rescinded two sets of Obama guidelines that required use of the civil standard of proof of “preponderance of the evidence,” in deciding whether a student is responsible for a sexual assault. The DeVos policy allowed colleges to abandon this standard for a more difficult standard called the “clear and convincing evidence” standard. These are civil cases with no criminal penalties so that the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt does not apply. A university can still use the civil case standard of the “preponderance of the evidence’ in the campus disciplinary process.
The Feminist Majority opposes the DeVos policy changes that weaken protections on campus to end sexual violence. Such difficult policies make it even harder to report sexual assaults and weakens campus efforts to prevent assault.
Victory: Some Bush Era Regulations Repealed
The Obama Administration has overturned some of the Bush era efforts to weaken Title IX and the educational equality it guarantees, particularly rescinding the regulations that allowed schools to fulfill their obligation for equal athletic facilities through an email survey to female students only, treating any failure to reply as a lack of interest in sports.
In 2006, the George W. Bush Administration issued changes to the Title IX Regulations that made it easier to have sex-segregated public K-12 schools and classes. Segregation is no more effective in increasing gender equality and other desirable educational outcomes than equally well-resourced gender equitable coeducation, and is often harmful because it can increase sex-stereotyping and discrimination against girls and women, boys and men. Feminist Majority and our allies in the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education have urged the rescission of these rules that facilitate sex discrimination.
Discrimination Against LGBT Students
Feminist Majority supports the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), which would provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students with important federal protections against discrimination and harassment, much as Title IX does for sex discrimination and sexual harassment in education. SNDA would add important protections based on the students’ actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, SNDA would help protect individuals who associate with LGBT students and students who have LGBT parents and friends. It also has important prohibitions against retaliation.
Pregnant and Parenting Students
A recent report from the National Women’s Law Center shows that the vast majority of states are failing to provide pregnant students and teen parents with equal educational opportunities. Under Title IX, pregnant and parenting students are entitled to equal access to regular schools and activities, and any segregated programs or classes must be completely voluntary, but this is not the norm in most states.
Feminist Majority is an active member of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE) and co-chairs the Single-sex Task Force. FM and NCWGE have urged the repeal of the 2006 Bush Education Department regulations that make it easier for public school districts to segregate girls and boys. There is no credible evidence that sex-segregated public education aids students or produces better outcomes than co-ed education. What’s more, there is evidence that it promotes sex stereotyping to the detriment of both girls and boys, and it increases the cost of public education.
Feminist Majority urges Congress to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students with important federal protections against discrimination and harassment.
Feminist Majority Supports passage of the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act (PPSAE), which provides a framework and to ensure that pregnant and parenting students have equal access to educational opportunities.