Title IX, formally known as the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, is a landmark piece of federal civil rights legislation that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded educational institutions, programs, and activities. Title IX’s reach spans many important issues including athletics and scholarships, sexual harassment, housing, discrimination in STEM courses, and pregnancy discrimination. To celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX and the impact it has made in the world of sports, we wanted to shed light on some of the most influential people in the history of Title IX who helped make the gains achieved possible.
Representative Patsy Minsk, from Hawaii, is recognized as the major author and sponsor of the Title IX Amendment. Elected as the first women-of-color in the House of Representatives, she was a dedicated and pioneering leader in education reform and used her own experiences of adversities faced as a woman during her education to inform Title IX. She introduced Title IX into Congress, and went on to serve 12 terms in office. Following her passing in 2022, she was given the Medal of Freedom and Title IX was renamed to the “Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act” in her honor.
Rep. Edith Green, considered by some to be the “most powerful woman ever to serve in the Congress”, made significant contributions to the Title IX bill. Rep. Edith Green of Oregon, was strongly committed to education, focusing much of her work on social reform and women’s issues after learning in the 60’s that no programs existed to help keep girls in school while such programs did exist for boys. In addition to Rep. Patsy Minsk, Rep. Edith Green helped create and introduce the legislation around gender equity in education that would become Title IX.
Senator Birch Bayh was one of the three main contributors to Title IX, alongside Rep. Patsy Minsky and Rep. Edith Green. He has been called the “father” of Title IX thanks to his work drafting the legislation and seeing it through its passage in the Senate. His work on civil rights legislation extends beyond Title IX, as he also was the main architect of the Equal Rights Amendment, which did not pass, but was focused on securing equality under the constitution regardless of one’s gender.
Billie Jean King is widely recognized as one of the greatest female athletes, and has been an outspoken champion of women’s rights, equality, and Title IX.
As a part of her pioneering work leveraging her success and influence to campaign for equal opportunity and prize money in women’s sports during the 60’s and 70s, Billie Jean King joined the effort to get the Title IX Amendment passed in 1972. She took the stand and testified in Washington on the importance and necessity of Title IX being passed in order for women and girls to have the opportunity to play and advance in sport. She also helped pave the way for current and future generations of women by forming the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) along with 8 other women known as the “Original 9”, and founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, “dedicated to creating leaders by providing girls access to sports and to defending Title IX in lawsuits."
Dr Bernice R Sandler is known as the “Godmother of Title IX” for her significant contributions to the creation and implementation of Title IX law. She has long been an advocate for women’s rights, and started her 40 years of advocacy after her own professional experiences with sex-based discrimination in educational institutions. Some of her work included filing and documenting data for over 200+ complaints regarding discrimination against women faculty in educational institutions, and working with Rep. Edith Green to drive forward hearings on sex-based discrimination in employment and education. The documentation of these issues through the hearings helped lead to the passage of Title IX as well as other related laws that aimed to eliminate sex-based discrimination.
Marcia Greenberger is a women’s rights attorney who co-founded the National Women's Law Center in 1972, just in time to support the creation and passage of Title IX. She and the organization have continued to be deeply involved in the women's athletic movement and advocating for women’s rights-- "working across issues that are central to the lives of women and girls”-- through litigation and policy. In her own words: “The idea that women aren't interested in sports or just aren't good at it, well that's the exact kind of stereotypical thinking that has kept women out of law and medicine over the years.”
Nancy Hogshead-Makar was the former president, legal advisor and Senior Director of Advocacy of the Women’s Sports Foundation, is an Olympic medalist in swimming, and is “one of the nation's foremost proponents of Title IX”. She is currently the CEO of Champion Women, an organization focused on efforts to advocate for equality and accountability in sport, including equal play and Title IX compliance, sexual harassment, and pregnancy and LGBT discrimination. She has testified in front of Congress on multiple occasions to speak on the topic of gender equity in sports, has been an expert witness in numerous Title IX cases, has written many articles on the topic of Title IX and women in sports, and has been a part of two Presidential committees on gender in sports.
Title IX has had an incredible impact for women in the 50 years since it was officially passed. With regard to sport, it has given multiple generations of girls and women in the United States the opportunity and support to pursue, excel, and succeed in their sports. Of the effect Title IX has had on women’s sports, founding president of the Women's National Basketball Association and first female president of USA Basketball Val Ackerman says it "has accelerated the creation of women's sports organizations and has fueled the development of women's sports in every way."
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