Presentation Looks to Destroy Myths Surrounding Title IX Law

Category:  News
Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 7:24 AM
Presentation Looks to Destroy Myths Surrounding Title IX Law by Tracy Geibel

Likely everyone on a college campus has heard of the Title IX law, but perhaps everyone doesn’t know what the law means and how it affects them and other students.

A few professors thought this might be the case.

On Wednesday morning in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center, Amy Barrall and Rebecca Wehler of the Health and Physical Education Department discussed and debunked several “myths” and “misconceptions” of the Title IX legislation to a room full of students, many who were visiting Edinboro University from high schools.

The law states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

The law protects both staff and students who are employed at or attend a college or university that receives federal financial assistance. Edinboro University and other state schools must comply with Title IX, but many private schools also receive this funding as well, meaning they too must follow the law.

It was passed in 1972, after women like Billy Jean King and Katherine Switzer began paving the way for women in sports. King, a tennis player, established the Women’s Tennis Association when the men’s association excluded them. In 1973, she won the tennis match that was referred to as the “Battle of the Sexes,” an event still discussed today.

In 1967, Switzer was the first woman to participate in the Boston Marathon. She signed up by using her initials instead of her first name. She completed the race even after someone charged after her, attempting to remove her from the marathon. Five years later, women could officially enter the race.

“We wouldn’t tolerate that today, but back then, it was a scandal that she was running,” Barrall said. “She was ruining their male-only activity.”

Wehler explained that no one really knew what would happen when women exercised. It was uncommon and some feared that her body may become “masculine” by physically asserting herself. She asked all the female athletes in the room to raise their hands.

“If your uterus fell out while you were participating in a sport, put your hand down,” Wehler said.

“If you grew a mustache while participating in physical activity, put your hand down.”

She was met with giggles, but continued over the noise.

“That was the mindset that they were in, and it was unfortunate but when you grow up that way, that’s what you think and how you live.”

The Title IX law extends into student life far beyond athletics though. It extends into academics, campus life, and non-sports activities as well. The law requires both male and female housing is provided equally. It requires that clubs provide for both sexes.

“You have to be equitable with both males and females,” Wehler said. “For a while, it was misconstrued that it only applied to females, but it applies to males too. It applies to whatever the underrepresented sex is.”

However, equitable does not mean that both women and men receive an equal amount of funding.

“We don’t have to spend equal money,” Wehler said. “Equality doesn’t always exist in dollar amounts.”

Schools must provide opportunities for each sex, based on the rate of enrollment of each, show how the programs are continually expanding for the underrepresented sex, or completely satisfy student interest.

In regards to athletics, schools can add sports for females, cut sports for men, or cut sports in general. While both speakers agreed that schools prefer to use the first option, limited funding may mean that men’s sports get cut.

Wehler gave this scenario. She asked one student, “If I gave you $1,000, would you give her half?” The student said, “No.” Wehler wasn’t surprised by the answer

. She said the student is thinking, “I know it’s not fair, but I’m the one reaping the benefit.” The student has no incentive to give half the money to another. She said that before the Title IX law was enacted, this was the situation. Men had the funding for sports and no reason to share that with the women.

Title IX changed the situation.

Tracy Geibel is the Executive Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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