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Title IX & Gender Equity: Definition & Facts

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  • 0:01 Gender Discrimination
  • 0:52 Title IX
  • 4:06 Impact
  • 5:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Many people have heard of Title IX with regards to athletics, but did you know that it goes way beyond just letting girls play sports? In this lesson, we'll examine the scope of Title IX and its impact on education and gender equality.

Gender Discrimination

Joanie is in high school. She loves math and science and taking apart and repairing things. She also loves sports, particularly basketball. Every chance she gets, she loves to play basketball with her brothers.

For Joanie, high school is a good place to explore all of the things she's interested in: she can take lots of classes in math and science. She can take a class on how to repair cars. She can play for the girls' basketball team.

But just a few decades ago, Joanie wouldn't have been so lucky. There was a time when gender discrimination, or treating people differently because of their gender, was common and even legal in education. Let's look at how the federal government tried to address gender discrimination in education with the passage of Title IX.

Title IX

Let's take Joanie by the hand and put her in a time machine. We're going to take her back to 1971. This was the year before the passage of the United States Education Amendments, a law that changed several different aspects of federally funded education programs.

Among the amendments was Title IX, which required equality for both genders in education. So, what can Joanie expect before Title IX was passed in 1972? To understand that, let's take a look at the four areas that Title IX covered.

1. Sex segregation and sex stereotypes

Before Title IX, schools could segregate students based on their gender. Colleges could be open to boys only, so that Joanie might have trouble finding a good school to go to.

That's not the only segregation, either. Remember that Joanie is interested in learning how to repair things. Before Title IX, schools could make girls take home economics to learn how to be good at cooking and cleaning and make boys take shop class, where they learned a trade like mechanics or woodworking. But if Joanie wanted to take a shop class instead of home economics, the school would have been allowed to force her to take home economics instead. But Title IX made this type of stereotyping and segregating illegal, so Joanie can take the classes she wants and go to many more colleges than before.

2. Pregnant and parenting teen rights

Joanie's friend Beth is 16 and pregnant. Like many teen mothers, Beth has a hard road ahead of her and going to school is difficult while trying to take care of a baby. But it was much more difficult before Title IX. Back then, it was legal for a school to expel pregnant teens. That is, the school could tell Beth that she wasn't allowed to attend anymore because she was expecting a baby.

Thanks to Title IX, though, Beth and other teen moms are legally protected. Schools can't expel them, and they are allowed to continue attending school with their friends.

3. Gender-based violence

Like other girls, Joanie has faced problems in her past with boys. Sometimes, she doesn't feel comfortable with the things boys say about her body and what they want to do to her. And just last year, a couple of boys cornered her in the hallway and touched her in places she didn't want to be touched.

Before Title IX, administrators could write off comments and behavior like that as just 'boys being boys.' But Title IX forces educators to address claims of sexual harassment or violence in schools. As a result, girls like Joanie are safer in schools.

4. Athletics

Perhaps the most famous way that Title IX affected girls in education is through sports. Remember that Joanie loves to play basketball. Before Title IX, her school didn't have to offer girls the opportunity to play sports. They could say that the only basketball team was for boys only and leave girls out. But Title IX required that schools offer sports programs to girls as well as boys, so Joanie can now play basketball and even work towards a sports scholarship.

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