'We Must Recognize that Our Journey to Equality Is Not Complete,' Says AFT's Lawrence
WASHINGTON—As the nation marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Title IX civil rights law this month, a new report calls on policymakers to commit more resources and attention to strengthen enforcement of the law's ban on sex discrimination in education.
The American Federation of Teachers released the following statement by AFT Executive Vice President Francine Lawrence in conjunction with a Capitol Hill briefing today on the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education's report, "Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education." Also on Wednesday, AFT members were among those participating in the Title IX 40th Anniversary Celebration at the White House.
"As we celebrate the progress we have made since the enactment in 1972 of Title IX's promise of equal treatment and opportunity for boys and girls in our schools—and for young men and women in our colleges and universities—we must also recognize that our journey to equality is not complete.
"While Title IX may be best known by Americans for its impact on scholastic sports, it is about much more than athletics. If properly applied and enforced, this important law offers opportunities for advancement in many other endeavors.
"For example, as this report and research by the American Association of University Women make clear, women are still greatly underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The law also could help protect girls and women from bullying in school based on gender—behavior now understood to be a form of sex discrimination.
"The AFT is proud to be a member of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, which produced this new report. Title IX protects all students—male and female—from discrimination on the basis of sex. We must all be watchful to make sure that new policies and practices do not violate the commitment we have made to equality."
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Highlights from the Report
- Title IX mandates equal opportunity for all students—kindergarten through postgraduate school—regardless of sex. Studies show that Title IX has made greater educational opportunities available for students of both sexes.
- Title IX has increased female participation in sports exponentially. At the same time, athletic participation among male students has continued to rise over the last 40 years. Opportunities in sports still lag for female students. In addition, participation varies among groups, with fewer than two-thirds of African-American and Hispanic girls playing sports, compared with more than three-fourths of Caucasian girls.
- Girls and women have made great progress in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Nevertheless, more work is needed to overcome stereotypes about male and female abilities that can limit access to the STEM areas of study and professions.
- Barriers remain high for girls and women seeking to enter educational and career programs in areas such as information technology, construction, manufacturing, auto engineering and other skilled trades.
- Despite efforts to curb sexual harassment—and Title IX's protections against such treatment in all of a school's programs or activities—this form of discrimination remains prevalent in schools and on college campuses. More than half of girls and 40 percent of boys in grades 7 through 12 reported being sexually harassed during the 2010-11 school year.
- Despite the protections extended by Title IX, pregnant and parenting students continue to face discrimination in school, including being pushed into separate instructional programs, inequitable absence policies, and exclusion from extracurricular activities.
The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education is a nonprofit organization of more than 50 groups dedicated to improving educational opportunities for girls and women. For more information, visit http://www.ncwge.org/.