TRENTON – The State Senate today approved a resolution sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono that urges the US Department of Education to refrain from weakening federal Title IX statutes.
“Title IX has been critical in ensuring that women have access to athletics programs at American colleges and universities for the past 35 years,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “The US Department of Education’s decision to weaken these protections opens the door for some schools to reinstitutionalize discrimination in sports.”
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits educational institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender, including in their athletic programs and activities.
In 1979, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Policy Interpretation on Title IX that allowed educational institutions to demonstrate compliance in one of three ways: by providing participation opportunities for male and female students in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective full-time enrollments; by exhibiting a history and continuing practice of program expansion responsive to the interests and abilities of the under-represented athletes’ sex; or by demonstrating that the interests and abilities of the members of the under-represented sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program.
Senator Buono’s resolution, SR-79, would urge the U.S. Department of Education to rescind it’s decision from March 2005 that modified this three-part test to allow schools to satisfy part three by sending an e-mail survey to students. Schools would then be allowed to equate a lack of response to the survey with a lack of interest in playing additional sports.
“The idea that an e-mail survey can in any way accurately gauge student interest is truly absurd,” explained Senator Buono. “Women shouldn’t have to keep a close eye on their e-mail inboxes in order to protect their right to play sports.”
According to Senator Buono, prior to 1972 and the enactment of Title IX, virtually no college or university offered athletic scholarships to women, fewer than 32,000 women participated in collegiate sports, and women’s sports received only two percent of funds spent on college athletics programs. Today there are over 160,000 women participating in intercollegiate sports.
“The Bush Administration has failed those 160,000 women who rely on Title IX to ensure that their teams exist. It’s time for a change in course and a return to the robust guidelines aimed at protecting equal opportunity on American campuses that use to exist.”
The resolution passed by a voice vote. It will now be filed with the Secretary of State.