It might seem like every year there is a new cause to celebrate or a milestone anniversary arrives. Many of them warrant celebration or at least an acknowledgement. The year 2012 is no different, with countless reasons to remember moments in history and worthy causes.
This year marks a point in our history when a parade or party should be planned in every community. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a federal civil-rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. The history of discrimination in this country is a turbulent one, and one that continues to be improved and evolve both in positive and negative ways. Title IX helped set a tone in education today.
The law, passed in 1972, requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding. It’s a law that many people do not understand as some think it pertains only to women. Not so. The goal of the law is to end all sex discrimination in education. The language of the law makes that clear.
The law as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor reads: “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.”
One myth about the law is it provides a benefit only in the area of athletics. Again, not true. According to www.titleix.info, there are 10 key areas addressed by the law. They include access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing and technology.
There are so many laws to keep track of it’s easy to overlook one that changed the landscape of education in this country. This law is not something we think about when we are watching our alma maters compete with rivaling schools during homecoming or when we read about the local soccer player who won a state championship.
Celebrating a step forward for equality is an anniversary worth celebrating. More importantly, it is an anniversary worth remembering. While there are many positive examples of progress made in the arena of equality, some would agree we still have a long way to go. We do. But at least we can pause for a moment and acknowledge a law that represents a victory for those fighting for equality.