ACLU Hails Reaffirmation of Landmark Civil Rights Law; Department of Education Leaves Title IX Unchanged

July 11, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today hailed a Department of Education letter that effectively reaffirms the 31-year-old “”Title IX”” civil rights law, the fate of which had been uncertain after the Bush Administration signaled it might seek to alter the measure.

“”This is a big win for the rights of all Americans,”” said LaShawn Y. Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “”Whether the department did it because polling showed the abiding popularity of this law or because it was the right thing to do, its decision to keep the statute in force deserves praise.””

The Department of Education’s “”Dear Colleague”” letter, sent out today to all schools, clearly affirmed that all current policies implementing Title IX will remain unchanged. The move came a year after Education Secretary Rod Paige created the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which many in the civil rights and civil liberties communities feared might be the beginning of a weakening in the enforcement of the law.

However, since the Commission’s creation, Title IX has been resoundingly defended in Washington and in public opinion. A recent USA Today poll found that close to three-quarters of all Americans feel that the law should remain as it is, or be strengthened.

Title IX is a key component of America’s civil rights framework. Passed in 1972 it barred discrimination based on sex in all federally funded educational activities, including athletics, which had historically excluded female participation. And, although women remain underrepresented in high school and college athletics, Title IX has done more than any other piece of legislation or federal policy to equalize athletics in America.

“”Title IX has almost single-handedly led to a renaissance in women’s athletics and an increase in all of the added benefits that come with playing sports in school,”” said Lenora Lapidus, Director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. “”Thankfully, those gains will continue to pay dividends for all Americans.””

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