Title IX, passed by Congress in 1972, essentially banned sex discrimination in educational settings. In 1975, the then-Department of Health, Education and Welfare wrote the regulations that would implement the law. The following lessons will help you both to understand what the school environment was like for girls 40 years ago and ensure that Title IX regulations are being followed at your school today.
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Your parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents likely remember the days before Title IX. Prior to 1972, girls and boys didn’t have equal access to learning opportunities. As an example, girls took home economics while boys took auto shop or wood shop. Neither sex was allowed to take the other’s classes.
But unequal access went beyond restrictions on classes by gender. It also affected opportunities for girls in sports, math and science, technology and higher education and did not protect them from sexual harassment or being sent to separate, often inferior, schools if they became pregnant.
1. Write a note to a relative who went to school before 1975, asking for an interview. Include the questions you might ask based on your broad understanding of Title IX.
2. Conduct your interview in person, by phone, by email or via Skype or chat. Determine the questions you want to ask during the interview. Some possible questions might be: What does your interviewee remember about single-sex classes, such as shop, home economics or gym? Was he or she frustrated by them? Why? How were pregnant or parenting students treated in his school? If he left school, did he receive an equal education? How were girls encouraged to, or discouraged from, taking higher-level math or science classes? Were they encouraged to follow certain career paths? What were they?
3. Let your interviewee know that you will share his experiences with the rest of the class and compare it with your learning experiences.
4. In a Q&A format, write the results of your interview. As a class, compare what you’ve heard. Did you discover some common experiences?
Title IX calls for the designation of at least one coordinator on campus who ensures that all regulations are being met and complaints are heard and resolved. In many areas, there is only one coordinator per district.
1. As a class, find out the name and location of the coordinator on your campus or within your district.
2. Design a short student survey on equal access to educational opportunities, facilities and funds on campus. Your questions should be designed to discover where there might be less than equal circumstances for students of each sex and in all life stages. The questions should cover all areas covered by Title IX, including sports, college and career preparation, classroom environments, choice of courses and harassment-free environments.
3. Conduct your survey. As a class, discuss what you’ve found. What areas could be improved at your school? Which are good examples of equal access?
4. Invite your campus or district Title IX coordinator to your class. Ask him or her to describe the role’s responsibilities and provide examples of when he has worked to ensure an equal education for all students. Also, ask what the process is for reporting any inequities within your school or district.
5. Share the results of your survey with the Title IX coordinator. Work together to make a plan for following up with and resolving any issues.
Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972—The text of the legislation, from the website of the U.S. Department of Labor