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Title IX & Student Conduct Code Blog

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What’s the Impact of Title IX?

Fifty years ago, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 changed the education environment at colleges and universities throughout the United States. In the intervening years, the interpretations of what it means to provide equal opportunities in education have expanded, sometimes becoming quite nebulous. However, recent guidelines have provided clarification, including due process protections for respondents accused of Title IX violations.

Some of the effects of Title IX include more opportunities for women in athletics and other campus endeavors, increased safety measures addressing intimate partner violence and sexual assault, and a reduced tolerance for many types of sexual harassment. While Title IX has not created a perfect world for college students, student rights lawyers advocating for various campus concerns have used Title IX to improve environments on campus. For example, as efforts to balance the rights of women and transgender athletes take the spotlight, Title IX will continue to play an important role going forward.

The Guarantees of Title IX

The simple language of Title IX prohibits educational programs that receive federal funding from excluding participants on the basis of their sex, denying benefits on the basis of sex, and subjecting anyone to discrimination based on sex. At the time of enactment, “on the basis of sex” meant female, but now the language refers to gender identity, sexual preference, and gender roles as well.

Initially, some schools asserted that they did not have to comply with Title IX because they did not receive direct funding from the federal government. However, subsequent rules clarified that any educational program that received federal money from any source—including money provided by students who received federal grants, scholarships, and loans—had to comply with Title IX requirements. Student rights lawyers know that means Title IX rules apply to almost every college and university in the country.

The Impact on Women’s Athletics

The most noticeable impact for many is the change in NCAA sports for women. Title IX was not specifically enacted for sports programs, but the equality requirements required such a shift in spending for colleges and universities that the athletic impact stole the show in the early years of Title IX. Opponents tried to argue that Title IX requirements should not apply to revenue-generating sports, and it is easy to see why. After 50 years of equal opportunities, men’s college sporting events bring in substantially greater ticket revenue than women’s events. Revenue production, however, is not a defense to a Title IX athletics discrimination claim. 

While women’s sports opportunities have grown tremendously and flourished under Title IX requirements, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that men’s NCAA championship sports opportunities have also increased every single year since the passage of Title IX. Of course, the impact is much more noticeable for women’s programs. In 1972, less than 30,000 women participated in college sports, and women’s sports were allocated only about 2% of college athletic budgets. Now rates of participation are about six times higher, and the women’s sports at Division 1 schools receive close to 50% of athletic budgets.

Women in Professions

At the time of Title IX’s enactment, less than 10% of advanced degrees in law and medicine went to female students. The combined effects of Title IX policies encouraging inclusion and discouraging discrimination have leveled the playing field. Today approximately half of all medical and law degrees are awarded to women. The percentage of women on faculty in tenure-track positions in the science, technology, engineering and math fields has more than tripled since the passage of Title IX.

While it is difficult to know how much of the increase is attributable to Title IX and how much to societal and other factors, it is interesting to note the increase in nontraditional trade careers for women. In 1972, the number of women in skilled trade professions was negligible, but after Title IX mandated equal training in elementary and secondary schools and girls received equal exposure to industrial arts, more of them have embraced technical careers and now make up approximately 25% of the workforce in the field.

Sexual Harassment

The effect of Title IX on sexual harassment in campus settings is not as easy to quantify as some of the other changes. Certainly, anecdotal evidence shows that jokes and conduct that were once standard practice are no longer acceptable to either men or women. Women in staff and faculty positions may have received more benefit from the policy and environmental changes than students since they tend to remain with the same colleagues for longer. Nevertheless, student rights lawyers know that much progress remains to be made in this area.

Sexual Assault

When it comes to incidents of sexual violence on campus, Title IX has most definitely changed the way colleges and universities handle incidents. Allegations are given formal recognition, procedures are put in place to separate parties involved, and schools hold formal investigations and hearings to resolve complaints.

The big question, of course, is whether the incidents of sexual violence have decreased any because of the remedial measures of Title IX. The rules and procedures raised awareness of the problem and allowed victims to step forward to accuse their attackers. But since the statistics on the subject before the implementation of Title IX would be suspect at best, it is impossible to gain an accurate comparison. Women and many members of the LGBTQIA+ community often feel at risk, and clearly, problems remain to be addressed in the future.

Our Student Rights Lawyers Will Continue to Use Title IX Provisions to Improve Life on Campus

Title IX and the implementing rules and interpretative guidance have paved the way for great progress over the past 50 years, but the work is far from over. Student rights lawyers will continue to take advantage of Title IX provisions to bring greater equality and end discrimination on college and university campuses.

At Duffy Law, we firmly believe that the tools provided by Title IX can accomplish great goals, but these tools must be used with care to protect the rights of all students involved. We bring an unquenchable passion for justice to the practice of Title IX law and know that working together, student rights lawyers, administrators, faculty, staff, and students can bring the Title IX vision of full equality to fruition. Contact us today.

Felice Duffy

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Attorney At Duffy Law

Attorney Felice Duffy served as an Assistant United States Attorney for ten years after beginning her legal career at two prestigious firms (one in CT and one in NY) and then clerking for two federal judges. A life-long Title IX advocate, she brought a legal action under the then-new Title IX statute against UCONN while an undergraduate to compel the creation of its women’s varsity soccer program. She went on to become a first-team Division I All-American, was selected to be on the first U.S. National Women’s Team, and spent 10 years as Head Coach of the Yale women's soccer team. Attorney Duffy has Ph.D. in Education/Sports Psychology and has spoken to, and conducted trainings for, over 50 schools and organizations on a wide range of topics involving athletics, the law, and social justice. You can reach Felice at (203) 946-2000.