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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities, provides the cornerstone of federal law ensuring equal educational opportunity. To name just one of its benefits, Title IX has greatly expanded athletic opportunities for women and girls.

The National Women's Law Center reports that when Title IX was first enacted 1972, girls made up only 7.4 percent of all high school athletes; girls were 40 percent of all high school athletes by 2000. Similarly, in 1972, fewer than 32,000 women participated in intercollegiate athletics, receiving only 2 percent of all athletic dollars; by 2000, that number had quadrupled, with women comprising 40 percent of all college athletes. However, women athletes, despite their numbers, still struggle for equal access to opportunities and facilities.

Advocates of Title IX also point to the need to address sex segregation in technical, vocational, and career education programs in junior and community colleges, the issue of sex-based differentials in the SAT and other standardized tests that do not accurately predict academic performance, and the need for affordable and adequate child care for low-income mothers to enable them to pursue higher education.

More about Title IX

Department of Education Policy

Court Cases

Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education

In March 2005, the Supreme Court ruled to expand the scope of Title IX to protect whistleblowers who report academic institutions that discriminate against students based on gender.

National Wrestling Coaches Association v. Department of Education

In May 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit claiming men's sports teams are discriminated against because of Title IX.

National Collegiate Athletic Association vs. Smith

In February 1999, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is not automatically covered by the anti-discrimination laws that apply to its member schools.

Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District and Davis v. Monroe County School District

In separate cases in 1998 and 1999, the Supreme Court made clear that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires schools to take action to prevent and stop the harassment of students by teachers or other students. Those decisions, however, also severely limited the circumstances under which victims of such harassment may receive money damages for their injuries.

Cohen v. Brown University

In April 1997, the Supreme Court declined to review a Court of Appeals ruling that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires an educational institution that receives federal funds to provide opportunities to participate in athletics proportionate to the school's enrollment of women and men or demonstrate that it is expanding its sports programs to accommodate the interests and abilities of all its students.

Grove City v. Bell

In 1984, the Supreme Court interpreted Title IX very narrowly in Grove City v. Bell, constraining its protections to the limited program within an institution that actually received federal funding - e.g., a college's financial aid department - rather than covering the educational institution as a whole. Under this interpretation, athletic programs (considered to be among the most unequal of all college and university programs) were virtually immune from Title IX scrutiny because they rarely receive direct federal funding. This decision was legislatively reversed with the enactment of the Civil Rights Restoration Act in 1988.

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