Breakout Session II: Title IX at 40 - Breaking Barriers, Challenging Limitations and Strengthening Advocacy Networks

Bunny Sandler: There’s been a 900% increase in high school women’s athletics since Title IX was passed. However, that number today is less than the number of boys in sports at time Title IX was ratified, not even taking increase of population into account.

Schools are supposed to have a Title IX coordinator, but many don’t. Everyone should ask their local school superintendent, create a line of communication. Local school newspapers can investigate if the school is following Title IX with sex discrimination and athletics. There’s an AAUW kit to evaluate athletics. You can visit the fields, stimulate conversation, and make change. If there’s no Title IX coordinator, anyone can charge a violation of rights. You can get attention by contacting your representatives and telling them about it, which will lead to the Department of Education knowing about it.

Title IX originally didn’t cover harassment or violence because there were no words for those things in 1972, but now it does because it involves Title IX. Everyone on campus is protected, even from computer harassment.

There’s increased interest in Title IX on the K-12 with bullying. Sexual harassment =/= bullying, bullying =/= sexual harassment, but there’s a Venn diagram of how they relate. If a bullying incident arises and there’s a sexual component, then it has to be handled by Title IX standards.

Christina Vogt: [Letter to West Virginia school superintendent] You’ve been doing a good job, but there’s still some room for improvement.

STEM fields are the future, so it’s important that you get women into it because right now they’re not, the statistics lag.

The amount of single-sex schools have gone down, but they still exist, so either shut them down or keep an eye on it.

WV schools only have abstinence education, and teen pregnancy hasn’t gone down. Take better care of teens who are pregnant so they graduate.

Work on women’s athletics because it’s not perfect. Have athletic coordinators take a course in Title IX enforcement, and have them submit a report at the end of the year about how they integrated Title IX into the school’s women’s athletics.

Sexual harassment is underreported. Tell kids their rights and make GSAs.

Jennifer Martin: I’m from Michigan, and in November 2011, Michigan tried to pass an anti-bullying law. It didn’t go through because it has LGBT language. A Senate bill with a religious/moral exemption didn’t pass. This has to do with Title IX, and parents don’t know that they can protect their kids with it, because it covers LGBT harassment in schools. It’s the same situation in Oregon and there haven’t been any changes in bullying, so we’re still trying. In Michigan we’re working with enumerated laws.

We created a superintendent survey asking about single sex schools, LGBT bullying, Title IX coordinators, etc. and the response rate was 2%. We need follow-up with that, we need volunteers and interns to do it.

Some districts admit they don’t have a Title IX coordinator. When I was in teacher ed I wasn’t taught about it either, it has to be taught. The few existing coordinators aren’t trained and usually have other jobs. Parents need to know who the coordinator is, most don’t.

One of my friends tried to be a coordinator and was just given the job because the school didn’t want to violate codes and get fined.

I was sexually harassed, so I filed an HR complaint. I went to the HR director and he told me it wasn’t sexual harassment because I wasn’t propositioned for sex. He was fired though.

Sue Klein: I’ll be talking about sex segregation in K-12 schools. We just completed a 2007-2010 study about the extent of it through the US. We found about 1,000 public schools with single-sex classes. On the elementary level, it was most common for there to be a girls’ class and boys’ class. In high school classes, it was most common for the sexes to be segregated in math.

This all increased with the Bush administration, since it changed Title IX regulations for more choice in public schools. There are only about 100 single-sex schools, the rest just have segregated classes. There are new regulations against non-totally equivalent single-sex schools. We need the Constitution plus Title IX to identify sex discrimination.

Most sex segregation is separate and unequal, there’s different treatment for each gender. There’s no evidence that it’s more effective. It’s more expensive than coeducation.

We can fight this. We worked with Title IX state coordinators, and some helped us but others had no clue, so we educated them. NOW and ACLU and other organizations can work together against this. Washington State has state ERA that makes stronger anti-sex segregation regulations than Title IX does, so they were able to make a Tacoma school stop sex segregation. The principal was very disappointed and has bills trying to reverse it, so Washington can change the state ERA and Title IX. A NOW representative and ACLU representative testified in Senate against the change. A federal ERA is needed to bolster it.

Stephanie Ortoleva: Women with disabilities are women too, so unity can exist between able-bodied and disabled women. Title IX and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act have an intersection, they were passed at same time. The women’s and people with disabilities movements were on separate tracks though. Title IX covered women and girls, and 504 covered people with disabilities.

I do international work. The number of people with disabilities just increases. 19% of women have disabilities and 12% of men have disabilities, so women make up 75% of the population with disabilities.

Girls with disabilities are less likely to start and stay in school, worldwide. They are rarely in vocational programs. There’s a 3% literacy rate for people with disabilities, only 1% of women with disabilities are literate though. They face a double disadvantage because of their disability and gender, plus other identities, like race, indigenous status, LGBT, poverty, etc. People with disabilities are also the most poor.

The theme of a UN women’s commission is STEM. There was no mention of disability so I organized one. STEM is very important in the developing world, and women with disabilities are excluded. STEM is important at the market and in daily lives. Increased knowledge of STEM also reduces gender violence.

There are lots of barriers for girls with disabilities, since they face a double discrimination.

  1. Parents feel there’s no need to educate a girl, and especially not a girl with disabilities. In rich families, sometimes girls with disabilities receive more education.
  2. Girls with disabilities are often made invisible, left in the home, since their parents are embarrassed.
  3. Girls with disabilities who get an education often go to subpar schools for students with disabilities. At such schools, there is more violence and a lack of sex education, which leads to pregnancy and STDs.
  4. Since girls with disabilities are usually viewed as virgins, they are often raped because pf a myth that having sex with a virgin cures AIDS.
  5. Girls with disabilities are trafficked more.
  6. Girls with disabilities are subject to more teasing and bullying.
  7. There’s better transport to school now for girls with disabilities but it’s still bad, it’s more dangerous because they are usually alone and can be harassed more easily.
  8. There’s a bad toileting system in place, especially since girls with disabilities may need help going to the bathroom, so there’s more risk for harassment.
  9. Girls with disabilities are largely excluded from STEM, especially math, training.
  10. Girls with disabilities are classified less often so they don’t get services as often as boys with disabilities. Boys with disabilities are given more tech options than girls.
  11. Girls with disabilities are more vulnerable because they tend to be more submissive.
  12. Girls with disabilities have minimal peer support. They need more role models, especially in STEM. There are actually some nice programs in place now.

As feminists we should align with women with disabilities because we face the same problems as they do, plus more for them.

Ellie Smeal: We’re creating problems now, since the longer Bush Title IX regulations stay, the more damage is done. Smith and other women’s colleges go under Affirmative Action, but public dollars sex segregating schools because of faulty educational data isn’t okay.

Parochial schools need funding because the religious population is going down. The reality is that parochial schools are struggling, there is extant sex discrimination, and the excuse for sex segregation it’s not federal funding, but religious schools get federal money.

The other problem is because private charter K-12 schools are funded by corporations.

There’s a big lobby for sex segregated schools, there’s big money involved because it’s two times the schools and supplies.

We can’t ignore that black boys drop out at higher rate, same with Latinos. The number one reason is poverty, I think. There’s been some success so it’s hard to change the Obama policy. There were black boy and black girl schools in Chicago that were better because they received more funding and had smaller classes. We need a men’s movement too. We need to remember our origins, we want girls and boys to go up together, not to bring boys down. It’s feminists’ problem too when boys drop out. Stereotypes aren’t good for boys either, we have to make school good for boys too.

Q There are positives of girl-only schools. What motivated the Bush changes?

A We can’t really know. There’s always the parochial lobby. Men’s rights is load of garbage. Every attack on Title IX has been Republican, they have a vested interest because it’s easier to throw girls in subpar jobs if they received a subpar education.