Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any school or other educational program that receives federal funding. Title IX turns 50 in June; it entered into force on June 23, 1972.
“The scope of Title IX extends far beyond athletics,” says Dr. Ashely Baker, Chief Diversity Officer at Spartan Athletics. “The Title IX legislation was really very much about access to education and access to opportunity for women, and sports has been a space where we’ve really been able to see that in a more tangible way than in other places. other places. When you think about the root and purpose of that original legislation, it looked at what was happening in education and employment and the areas that weren’t covered by the Civil Rights Act that women wanted have access. We talk about admissions, recruitment, housing, financial aid and making sure that there was no discrimination against women when these resources or opportunities were allocated or became available and that women were not excluded.
Baker talks about the importance of “Title IX Godmother” Bernice Sandler and explains how Title IX evolved.
“We have certainly made progress. There is no doubt that women and girls have had more opportunities. But when you start to really look at the details and the climate of where we are in sport and in society, we’re not as advanced as we tend to say. We have seen an increase in the number of girls participating in sports at all levels and having access to more careers. So, we opened that door, and there are more women like me who have opportunities that we are able to take, but we still face several obstacles. We still encounter challenges because the bias still exists. Maybe not the overt discrimination, like, ‘Hey, go home and have kids and be in the kitchen.’ But it can still be difficult to truly thrive and persist in some areas.
How would you like to see Title IX evolve over its next 50 years and what are both the challenges and opportunities ahead?
“There are three areas we need to think about about how this legislation needs to be updated to better reflect where we are in society and even take into account other factors that in the 1960s and 1970s did not weren’t necessarily a priority at the time. We have the intersection of race and gender, we have the impact on the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth participating in sports or accessing education, and then we have youth with disabilities.
“While this legislation has certainly had an impact on women, it has failed and still fails to examine the intersection of what happens to women of color and what happens to black women in these spaces where we have opened up opportunities. And it ignores what has been coined as intersectionality. I have the barrier of being a woman, but I also have the barrier of being a black person in spaces that may not be as welcoming or have continued to create barriers for people like me. I think this legislation needs to be expanded to take into account the fact that there are so many other identities that are affected when we talk about discrimination.
Baker describes his role as Head of Diversity for Spartan Athletics. And she talks about the DEI roadmap for Spartan Athletics and its impact areas like culture and environment; education and awareness; and recruitment, retention and advancement. And she talks about how important it is for Spartan Athletics to be deeply involved in the community.
“We are truly committed to being better and always pushing ourselves to do what it takes to value our staff and the people on campus and in our community. And we want to be a model for what that looks like. Our student-athletes will thrive. And when they thrive, we win. When they prosper, they graduate. When they thrive, they become positive members of our society. And it all starts with what our culture and our environment is here and how we treat each other.
“We really love people being champions for Spartan Athletics and supporting what we do and challenging us to be better. Sometimes the comments are a little harsh, but they continue to give us the perspective of individuals who may be outside of our spaces. Are we at our best? How can we be better? What challenges exist and how can we better meet the needs of those around us, who again, generally support us without giving up?
What are your thoughts on the 50th anniversary of Title IX?
“We still have a long way to go, but we have really made progress. We need to celebrate and recognize that, and we will in Spartan Athletics over the next year. There will be several events centered around celebrating pioneers specifically within our athletics department. There have been incredible women who have had a wide variety of experiences who have challenged this institution, who have pushed this institution, and who have also come forward and been role models for the young women we have on our teams now and the women who work in our department.
“You will see over the next year our commitment to celebrating these women because it is incredibly important. The work they have done, many of us would not be where we are today without it. We knows the impact of the first 50 years of Title IX. How will we impact the next 50? What will we do differently? What have we learned? How can we push ourselves forward to ensure that future generations can say about us some of the same things we say about the women, men, and leaders who came before us who impacted these spaces and made them better for us.
“That’s my hope, and that’s what I’d like to see, not just in the next year, but in the future. It’s a monumental moment for this 50-year-old legislation and it gives us a reality of where we are and some hopes and dreams of where we might go from here.
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