Saturday, April 07, 2007

And This is Why We Still Need Title IX

Given the vile and horrible comments Imus made about the Rutgers University women's basketball team (too vile to be repeated here) I'm glad that Women's E News had the following good news to report this morning:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of women April 2 when it declined to hear an appeal of a lower court's decision by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, the National Women's Law Center, who represented the plaintiffs, said March 29. The association had scheduled six girls' sports to compete in off-seasons, but was ordered to schedule an equal amount of girls and boys' teams during regular seasons. The high court's decision not to take the case brings closure to a nearly decade-old legal dispute.

While girls playing on sports leagues in school is not unusual anymore and the above case is all about giving girls the same access to resources and equity, that is thanks entirely to Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education (not just sports). More thanks go to the National Women's Law Center who provide legal help and advocacy when girls' rights are in question.

According to their website, The National Women's Law Center has advanced and protected the rights of female students in educational institutions. The Center has long pushed for vigorous enforcement of Title IX through public education, advocacy, and key lawsuits challenging discrimination in athletics; sexual harassment, and single-sex programs that exclude young women, among other issues.

I have firsthand experience of the great work and people at the NWLC. A few years ago, we took the 7th grade girls in the girls program I ran to the AAUW Expand Your Horizons Conference. A great NWLC fellow gave a presentation to the 200 or 300 girls who were in attendance, and then came to our table and ate pizza with us and the girls. I was impressed at the way she engaged the girls-- asking them what they wanted to do when they grew up. A little baffled at an unknown adult guest at the table interfering with their pizza, they did not quite know what to make of the questioning. But when one girl finally said "I either want to do hair or be a veterinarian" the NWLC fellow asked her if she knew how much either of those jobs paid, and prodded her into thinking more about the choices in a supportive but questioning way.

When those same girls went to visit a veterinarian on a field trip several weeks later, it was this girl who practically interrogated the staff about where they went to school, and what courses they took in high school. No doubt in part to the NWLC fellow.

So many reasons to love the NWLC! Help them strengthen Title IX through signing their petition here.

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