Monday, November 30, 2009

PA Whistleblower Profiled in NY Times

Yesterday's New York Times contained a profile of Robert Landau, a Pennsylvania man who has been filing Title IX complaints -- more than 30 -- against local school districts since his own daughter was a student athlete in 1989. We wrote about Landau last year, when it was revealed that he was the anonymous complainant who had instigated an Office for Civil Rights investigation of Central Bucks School District for discriminating against girls' teams in areas of publicity, scheduling, and equipment. The Times article notes that over the years, Landau has tackled those issues and others, including equity in the number of athletic opportunities, venue of championship games, and deployment of the school mascot. One of the things that makes Landau remarkable is that his own children are grown; his efforts are on behalf of other people's children in communities other than his own. He acknowledges that as an outsider, he is better situated to blow the whistle on gender discrimination because the threat of reprisal and backlash against students can deter them and their parents from doing the same. He is also better situated than established advocacy groups to use a more aggressive, blitzkrieg approach, since organizations must be concerned about building relationships with repeat players and might have to prioritize instances of discrimination in a wider region.

Landau may be a bombastic nudnik, but he is playing an important role in the fight for gender equality in Pennsylvania athletics. There are other rogue enforcers like Landau out there, but hopefully the Times' choice to profile Landau will inspire a few more.