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Oct 29 2016
by Anna DiGiacomo

Understanding Title IX Across the 50 States

By Anna DiGiacomo - Oct 29 2016
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For many of us today, gender equality is a given. After all, history has come a long way. It’s no longer a woman’s sole duty to simply keep the house, mind the children and take care of her husband after work. Likewise, men are no longer charged with the task of single-handedly financially supporting the family, and the military draft has not commenced for men in years. All in all, it’s 2016 and it seems America has finally learned from her past mistakes - or so it seems. 

While the U.S. has certainly made great strides in achieving gender equality through the passage of legislation such as Title IX, the country is still falling short. The unfortunate truth is that even in this “enlightened” age, there are still instances of gender discrimination in America - against both men and women.

What is Title IX?

According to the NCAA, Title IX was passed as part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The federal law was designed to prevent discrimination in any educational program or activity on the basis of gender. It applies to any educational institution, both public and private, that receives federal funds. This may include - but certainly isn’t limited to - course offerings, financial aid, employment opportunities and student insurance. However, the two most visual applications include athletics and sexual assault.

Athletics:

One of the most applicable provisions to college students, Title IX requires that men and women have equal opportunities to participate in school-sponsored sports. This includes equal treatment with equipment, scheduling, coaching and medical facilities. Furthermore, Title IX mandates that athletes must receive scholarship funds proportional to their participation.

While these violations don't often receive much media coverage, it isn’t uncommon for colleges to be charged with athletic Title IX violations. In November 2015, former volleyball coach Matt Peck accused Middle Tennessee University of 28 Title IX violations, including the mistreatment and unequal pay of female athletes and faculty. After the university's year-long investigation, only three charges stuck:

                    1.   Not providing a stipend to an assistant coach.

                    2.   Lacking a video room for the volleyball and soccer teams.

                    3.   Lacking a softball locker room .

However, Title IX problems aren’t only found on college campuses. In Massachusetts, Leominster High School is currently under investigation due to claims of unfair funding between the men’s and women’s teams. According to Tony Bilotta, who filed the complaint, the school has been siphoning money from the women’s teams in order to give the high school baseball and football teams more resources. The school has yet to release a statement as of October 24th.

Sexual Harassment:

Under Title IX, discrimination based on gender also encompasses sexual assault, harassment and rape. According to the ACLU, any school that "receives federal funds may be held legally responsible when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities." Title IX holds the school responsible whether the harassment is committed by faculty, staff, or a student.

Regrettably, sexual harassment is a major issue that plagues universities across the nation. This year, Baylor University caused nationwide controversy for its mishandling of a series of sexual assault cases. According to the ESPN, a total of five women filed lawsuits against the university, two of which specifically accused Baylor football players of sexual assault. A separate complaint was given to the U.S. Department of Education for the university's poor handling of sexual assault cases as a whole. Currently, Baylor has dealt with the fallout of these cases through the resignation of university president and chancellor Ken Starr, football coach Art Briles, athletic director Ian McCaw and several other athletic department employees.

However, Baylor is hardly the only university to come under such scrutiny. This year alone, there have been over 300 sexual harassment investigations in American universities.

For a complete list of colleges currently under investigation, visit the following link.

With Title IX violations happening all across the country, it's clear that America still has a long way to go before it can claim full gender equality. However, there are numerous organizations, such as the ACLU, dedicated to the preservation of individual's rights in these Title IX cases. While it's true gender equality won't come easy, it also isn't unachievable. 

Be sure to check out this Storymap to see just how far Title IX has come - you may even spot your own university.

Lead Image Credit: Taylor Lang

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Anna DiGiacomo - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anna is a freshman Strategic Communications major at UNC Chapel Hill. She played varsity soccer in high school and besieged the student body with libertarianism. She now spends her time annoying her roommate, catching Bruce Springsteen concerts and getting lost while pretending to camp. Follow her on Instagram @digiacomoa

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