ACLU Highlights Threats to Title IX on 30th Anniversary Of Landmark Anti-Gender Discrimination Measure

June 27, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Saying that gender discrimination still exists in the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union today highlighted a number of threats to the landmark anti-gender discrimination measure — commonly referred to as Title IX — that was signed into law by President Richard Nixon 30 years ago.

“While we have made strides toward the goal of full equality for women, we are not there yet,” said LaShawn Y. Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Unfortunately, the Bush Administration does not share the widely held view that only with vigorous and continued enforcement of Title IX can we keep making strides.”

Warren applauded the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), for holding a hearing this afternoon to mark the 30th anniversary of Title IX. She asked the Committee to carefully scrutinize the proposal – announced on May 8, 2002 – by the Department of Education to modify the enforcement of Title IX to afford states more flexibility in establishing single-sex educational programs.

The ACLU opposes single-sex education – except when used to remedy past gender discrimination and when all other efforts to address gender discrimination in a co-ed environment have been exhausted – on both constitutional grounds and because it is unfair unless it is very narrowly tailored.

From a constitutional perspective, the Department of Education’s proposal is problematic, the ACLU said, because it treats students who share very similar backgrounds and challenges differently based solely on their sex. Under the proposal, some of these students will be offered better curricula, smaller classes, more adequately prepared and skilled teachers, better facilities and increased funding at the expense of other students who – unfairly – would then struggle given substandard educational opportunities.

The proposal is also unnecessary, the ACLU said, because current Title IX regulations actually give school districts flexibility to provide remedial educational programs to address gender discrimination in education while still continuing to actively promote equal opportunity, access and treatment for women in high school and college, both in academics and athletics.

“Title IX was enacted to help combat the negative stereotypes and sexism that are the logical outgrowth of gender separation in education,” Warren said. “Our ultimate goal must be the continued fight for full equality, a fight which is rarely served by single-sex education.”

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