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Title IX is of particular interest to young people because it prohibits institutions that receive federal funding from excluding students from educational and athletic programs based on sex. In sports, this very literally means that whatever boys/men’s teams are in existence in a school there must be an equal opportunity for girls/women.

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was signed into law on June 23, 1972 – 50 years ago last month by President Richard Nixon. We as a nation have been struggling with its interpretation ever since. In 1972 I was an inner-city high school principal in the middle of that struggle. My concern was finding enough money in our school’s athletic budget to fund sports that the girls weren’t playing but wanted to.  We didn’t have much schoolyard space but did have interest. How to do it?

I remember a conversation I had at another school with a girls’ teacher/coach who was preparing her GAA (Girls Athletic Association) T*E*A*M for an afternoon athletic event,  I said to her, “Good luck I hope you win.” She responded, oh, we don’t plan on winning – just playing.” Sports changed all that!

As a college physical education major at Occidental not far from where I was then that high school’s principal, I always believed in mens sana in corpore sano, which is Latin for “A healthy mind in a healthy body”. Most of the time a 45-minute P.E. class wasn’t going to do that for many. If we could find a teaching spot in our program, the district would supply our teacher/coach. And we did!

The girls’ interest was field hockey, volleyball, cross country running, and softball. We did the best we could. Trimming some school funding from other sports we found enough money for equipment. With the help of our community, we found enough other monies to adequately supply the remainder.

Will Title IX continue to be effective for schools?

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