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Title IX and activity equity at MHS

posted Mar 22, 2019, 8:46 AM by Andrew Tichy
The sun sets on a MHS football game. Activities are a prominent part of MHS life, but how does the district ensure they are equal?
Photo: Grace Halvorson | The Spud

By: Grace Halvorson

Title IX. If you’ve spent any time in athletics, you’ve maybe heard the term. But Title IX is rarely discussed, much less explained, in our schools. And no, it isn’t just for girls. Title IX, as stated in the Education Amendments of 1972, is the law that 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. It applies to athletics, arts, activities, and educational opportunities. Since sexual assault and harassment inhibit equal learning opportunities, Title IX also legally protects all students against them. It does not state that athletic opportunities must be exactly equal (ex. identical sports opportunities, such as both a girls football team and a boys football team), but equal support and opportunity to play for all genders. The NCAA describes it as “the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of: equipment and supplies; scheduling of games and practice times; travel and daily allowance; access to tutoring; coaching, locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; medical and training facilities and services; housing and dining facilities and services; publicity and promotions; support services and recruitment of student-athletes.”

With the recent passing of Bernice Sandler, “Godmother of Title IX”, it’s gotten a little more attention, but still often remains hidden in piles of legislation and school handbooks. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find information specific to Moorhead High’s applications of this crucial law. When searching Title IX on Moorhead’s official district website, very little comes up. It states that any new activities being proposed must comply with Title IX, and a short statement from the school board describing an equal education opportunity for all students. There’s also a lengthy description of the process surrounding reports of sexual assault or harassment. However, a dedicated page about Title IX is nowhere to be found, and there is absolutely zero mention of Title IX in the student handbook.

However, when looking at activities in Moorhead High, they seem to be fairly equal to all genders. So how does our school district comply to Title IX standards? Dean Haugo, the activities director of Moorhead High, has answers. He states that Moorhead Public Schools does it’s best to be mindful of providing similar opportunities in terms of activities and gender. He uses lacrosse as an example. “When our Booster group came to us 3 years ago to implement lacrosse they only planned on having a boys team. We informed them that we had no plans on adding a boys team without adding a girls team as well. At that point they got to work on creating a girls club team, which then put them in a position for lacrosse to be added at MHS.” He goes on to state that Moorhead pays attention to equal use of facilities and funds, so all genders have balanced access to practice spaces, travel, and equipment. Haugo reports that our district has not had any non-compliance issues with Title IX, and self-evaluates frequently to ensure equality.

Title IX is a crucial legislation to protect our students from discrimination. Every student deserves to participate in activities that they are interested in, and receive the same support from their school district as other students. Moorhead Public Schools is clearly taking steps to ensure that this critical law is observed. So, join a new activity or sport, because you can be sure your district will be cheering you on!