Equity and gender issues have always been prevalent in our nation, but with the enactment of Title IX 40 years ago, people became even more aware of the importance of equality – particularly in our schools.
Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments originally made no explicit mention of sports or athletics; however, during the past 40 years, just the mere mention of Title IX conjures up thoughts of equality – or lack thereof – among boys and girls athletic facilities, revenues and opportunities.
Through the years, bitter legislative battles were fought over just how Title IX policies and procedures were to be administered and implemented. In 1974, Senator John Tower introduced an amendment that would have exempted revenue-producing sports from Title IX compliance. But later that year, the Tower Amendment was rejected and the Javits Amendment, proposed by Senator Jacob Javits, was adopted in its place – stating that Title IX must include “reasonable provisions considering the nature of particular sports.”
As a female student-athlete in the 1970s and 1980s, the enactment of Title IX instilled in me an underlying sense of need for all girls to be treated equally – a desire that remains today in my role as superintendent of schools. Administrators continually have to monitor their school district’s athletic programs to ensure equal opportunities for both boys and girls. That often includes not only considering the number of sports offered, but also the issues of equal access, equal facilities and equal funding.
With respect to athletic programs, the Department of Education evaluates the following factors in determining whether equal treatment exists:
• Whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes;
• The provision of equipment and supplies;
• Scheduling of games and practice time;
• Travel and per diem allowances;
• Opportunity to receive coaching and academic tutoring;
• Assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors;
• Provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities;
• Provision of medical and training facilities and services;
• Provision of housing and dining facilities and services; and
• Publicity (Wikipedia, April 2012).
With all of this to consider, administrators must also interpret compliance with Title IX based on a three-part test as follows:
Providing athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment. This prong of the test is satisfied when participation opportunities for girls and boys are “substantially proportionate.”
Demonstrating a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the under-represented sex. This prong of the test is satisfied when the educational institution has a history and continuing practice of program expansion that is responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the under-represented sex (typically females).
Accommodating the interest and ability of the under-represented sex. This prong of the test is satisfied when an institution is meeting the interests and abilities of its female students even where there are disproportionately fewer females than males participating in sports.
Views differ with respect to the impact of Title IX. Discussions generally focus on whether Title IX has resulted in increased athletic opportunities for females or whether it has resulted in decreased athletic opportunities for males. Certainly, opportunities for girls in our public schools are far greater today – mostly because of Title IX. The National Federation of State High School Associations’ High School Athletics Participation Survey continues to indicate a rise in the number of girls playing high school sports on an annual basis.
Title IX has helped change the mindset of many individuals when it comes to equality for men and women. Positive change has occurred, but not everywhere. On the administrative side of secondary education, change has come more slowly. Some females have been passed over for principals’ positions, but persistence pays off.
Now in my 10th year as superintendent of schools in a Texas school district – the district’s first-ever female superintendent – Title IX continues to play a significant role in my life. But we still have a long way to go to achieve equality. When I began looking for a doctoral dissertation topic in 2009 and wanted to compare male vs. female Texas superintendents’ levels of satisfaction in their jobs, I was unable to do so because of the 1,037 school superintendents in Texas, only 100 were female (a comparison group too small to be statistically significant).
As is my goal, school superintendents should strive to provide equality for both genders. Female student-athletes today should know the significant role that Title IX played in the lives of their coaches and administrators.
Courtesy of the National Federation of High School Sports. Dr. Cheryl Floyd is Superintendent of Schools in the Huckabay Independent School District, 10 miles north of Stephenville, Texas. She may be reached at