Posted on June 23, 2022
The watershed legislation has played a large role in gender equity in athletics, prevention of sexual harassment on campuses and equity in educational opportunities overall
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. While it might be best known for its role in gender equity in athletics, Title IX is not just about sports.
It is a prohibition against sex-based discrimination in education, and addresses discrimination against pregnant and parenting students and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. It also covers sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and sexual violence, which includes attempted or completed rape or sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, exhibitionism, verbal or physical sexuality-based threats or abuse, and intimate partner violence.
President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law on June 23, 1972, after Rep. Patsy Mink, a Democrat from Hawaii, the first woman of color elected to the House of Representatives, helped steer the legislation through Congress.
It covers most K-12 schools, colleges and universities, as well as vocational schools, libraries and museums, which means not only millions of students, but educators as well. Title IX applies to athletics, the classroom, sexual assault and violence on campus, employment, discrimination, admissions, retaliation and even financial assistance with tuition.
Title IX remains vital in the continuing push for equality, including in the LGBTQ community
Connecticut State Law also prohibits discrimination based on gender, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation.
See below for quotes and reflections on Title IX from lawmakers in the Connecticut General Assembly as well as stakeholders.
State Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria (R-Beacon Falls, Derby, Seymour): “Title IX has been instrumental in opening opportunities and leveling the playing field for countless women, including me, to achieve success in the classroom, in sports, in business and in our personal lives. Thanks to this barrier-breaking legislation, starting in high school and continuing as a member of the tennis team while studying at Quinnipiac University, I was able to be part of a community that understood and emphasized the importance of equal access in athletics and the classroom. We may have come a long way, but we’ll never stop fighting for the equal rights of women.”
State Rep. Kate Farrar (D-West Hartford): “Title IX has advanced the educational opportunities and economic security of girls and women since its passage 50 years ago. Connecticut further strengthened Title IX since 1975 with legal protections for students regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Despite these historic advances, gender discrimination continues to this day in the classroom, on the playing field, and on our campuses. As we honor this anniversary, it is critical to ensure all students in Connecticut know their rights to an educational environment that is safe and free from any discrimination.”
State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest (D-West Hartford): “Title IX has opened many opportunities for women and girls and I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not ran track and field in high school. Beyond sports, Title IX has helped young people across this country to stand up against sexual discrimination, assault and harassment on college campuses, changing the way we think and talk about sexual violence. We still have far to go, but I’m so grateful for how far we’ve come.”
State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-West Haven): “Title IX helped to create equality in ways unimaginable 50 years ago when Congress first passed the law. The most recent NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament had record-breaking viewership, and the U.S. women’s national soccer team reached a milestone labor agreement for equal pay, which are examples of how we are seeing the long-overdue equality, recognition and appreciation of women in sports. Many of the achievements we are witnessing today are possible because of the equal opportunity provided through Title IX. There are still challenges ahead, but the projected course is promising as long as the cornerstone of Title IX is preserved.”
State Rep. Josh Elliott (D-Hamden), Co-Chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee: “When women and girls have the same opportunities, our country is better and brighter. I don’t know what our country would look like without the passage of Title IX 50 years ago, but I do know that without it, we may not have witnessed so many exceptional contributions from women and girls. Title IX moved our country forward to reflect those ideals in our constitution. We cannot be the land of the free and deny equal opportunities and rights to half the population.”
State Rep. Liz Linehan (D- Cheshire, Southington, Wallingford), Co-Chair of the Committee on Children: “Title IX legislation eliminates sex-based discrimination to ensure all students have access and equality in education, including athletics. Among the many benefits we’ve seen since its passage in 1972 is greater access to college, providing more athletic-based scholarships to women. As a former competitive athlete in powerlifting, which is often seen as a male-dominated sport, I’ve witnessed first-hand the benefit the greater access has provided for young women, and the growth of women’s sports. Like all women athletes, I’m very grateful for this legislation.”
State Rep. Bobby Sanchez (D-New Britain), Co-Chair of the Education Committee: “I am proud of the accomplishments that Title IX has brought about since its passage. There is no reason that anybody should endure sex discrimination in any form, especially as they work through the most challenging times of their young lives. This is an ongoing effort, and we must stay vigilant and focused to ensure present and future compliance with the law.”
Beth Hamilton, Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence: “There is still work to be done, particularly as we think about the protections Title IX can afford K-12 students who experience sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in K-12 settings. We know that rallying around prevention and awareness in campus communities is missing the opportunity to educate youth and young adults, who are even more likely to experience sexual violence, about their role in preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors.”
Glenn Lungarini, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CAS-CIAC): “The CIAC is proud of its trailblazing women who have served as role models to encourage female athletes before and after Title IX. From its earliest women’s events in 1937, to being among the nation’s leaders in girls’ championships in 1974, to the storied 50-year softball coaching career of East Lyme’s Judy Deeb, the CIAC has been inspired by those who have paved the way for the more than 35,000 girls participating in CIAC sports today.”
Adrienne Cochrane, CEO of YWCA Hartford Region: “YWCA Hartford Region passionately does the work of social justice to realize its mission to eliminate racism and empower women. Through our ‘Equity Isn’t a Game Initiative’ in 2021 with ESPN, and recently with the Hartford Yard Goats, we listened to women and girls about their experiences in amateur, college, and professional athletics and the sports industry. We had local role models in the sports industry discussing the multifaceted disparities women in sports face in male-dominated spaces. However, the progress inclusive of the 2021 Executive Order to further unwind harmful regulations that impact women, girls, LGBTQ+ persons, and marginalized communities is still a far cry from full equity. We must aggressively continue the work to arrest the exclusionary practices under any education program or activities receiving federal help.”