Friday, June 29, 2012

Study Connects Mother's Past Athletic Participation to Health of Baby

This study in the Journal of Labor Economics by UC Davis's Lisa Schulkind suggest that whether a mother had access to athletic opportunities has an affect on her babies' health, and that this benefit is particularly strong for black women compared to white women. 

In the researcher's own words:

I find that maternal athletic participation is an important determinant of infant health, as measured in the Vital Statistics Natality Files. The infants born to women who had access to greater athletic opportunities as teenagers are healthier at birth. High school athletic participation rates for girls increased from 5% in 1970 to 24% by the end of the decade, and I find that an increase of this size results in a 6% decrease in low birthweight infants (<2500 grams) and an 8% decrease in the incidence of very low birthweight infants (<1500 grams). I find little evidence that increased education or a change in observed behavior during pregnancy is the primary driver. At the same time, I do find evidence that selection into motherhood is affected.

When examined separately, the magnitudes of the estimated infant health effects are smaller for white women, but larger for black women. This difference likely reflects the fact that the black adolescents who participated in athletics as a result of Title IX are more disadvantaged, and have more to gain, than their white counterparts. In fact, the disparity in family background between black and white athletes is even larger than for non-athletes.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ball State Settles Retaliation Case for over $700,000

The last time we wrote about former tennis coach Kathy Bull's retaliation case against Ball State University, it was to report that her Title IX claim against the university had survived a motion to dismiss, allowing the case to proceed to trial.  Often times, however, a victory on a preliminary ruling like that  puts pressure on a defendant to settle instead, and that is what we're told happened yesterday in Bull's case.  According to one of her attorneys, Bull will receive a package of cash plus health benefits for life, together worth over $710,000, in exchange for dropping her case.

Bull claimed that she was terminated in the middle of her 21st season as head women's tennis coach, on false charges of NCAA rules violations, in order to discredit and silence her criticism of Ball State's Title IX compliance in the context of an OCR investigation. Interestingly, Bull was one of 12 women's head coaches to leave the university under circumstances that suggest discrimination and retaliation during a five-year period.

Marquette Sports Law Review Publishes Title IX Symposium Issue

Marquette Sports Law Review has published its Title IX Symposium issue, which includes an article that Kris and I co-authored about Title IX's equal treatment requirement, using examples from this blog to help explore and explain why that aspect of Title IX is often overlooked in favor of the more widely known equal opportunity requirement (the three-part test). 

The issue also contains other articles about Title IX:
  • Professor Paul Anderson reviews 40 years of legal developments that shaped Title IX.
  • Professor Deborah Brake reminds us that we are not limited to using Title IX to address the problem of romantic relationships between coaches and athletes. 
  • Attoney Diane Heckman examines the relationship between Title IX and the Supreme Court over the last 40 years.
  • Attorney Julie Yap argues that schools should have notice and an opportunity cure claims for money damages under Title IX, in athletics cases as well as sexual harassment cases.
  • Professor Brian Porto argues that retaliation victims ought to be protected under Title IX if they had a "contextually reasonable" or good faith basis that motivated their complaint that their institution was in violation of Title IX.
  • Professor Ellen Staurowsky questions whether Title IX is really relevant in the debate about paying college athletes, when athletic scholarships are more like payment for services rendered and not connected to educational opportunities.
  • Dean Cynthia Lee A. Pemberton critiques the persistence of reticence to comply with Title IX.
  • Cassandra Jones has a brief book review of Brake's Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women's Sports Revolution.

Monday, June 25, 2012

More anniversary coverage

Just wanted to note that Only a Game, an NPR program out of Boston, devoted its entire show this past Saturday to Title IX's anniversary. There were some great pieces and persons featured. Friend-of-the-blog Nancy Hogshead-Makar opened the show. There was a great piece about head injuries which included Mary Jo Kane of the Tucker Center. There was a focus on Brown University and its role in one of Title IX's watershed moments.* There was a debate between ESPN writer Peter Keating who recently wrote, as we noted, about the NCAA's scholarship limits and American Sports Council's Eric Pearson.
Definitely worth listening to!

*Also learned that former Brown women's hockey coach, Digit Murphy (who was interviewed for the segment because she testified against the school in 93), applied for the job coaching the men's team toward the end of her career and despite "nailing the interview" did not get the job.

Paying tribute by releasing football?

Generally, the 40th anniversary coverage was laudatory. There were good pieces about the gaps that remain, the oversights that have been perpetuated. Generally the haters laid off or wrote pieces about how the Title IX was getting ready to invade academics by mandating quotas in STEM. (Of course Title IX only applies to educational institutions so it has kind of already "invaded" the academy.)
Unfortunately our local paper decided to find a female coach to talk about how difficult compliance is for schools in this era of big-business athletics and how certain adjustments would make things better for everyone.
The Hampshire Gazette ran this story on the anniversary about the tennis coach at University of Massachusetts, [who once played doubles with Billie Jean King (does this give her Title IX cred?)], and who thinks football should be left out of the Title IX equation--because it's just too hard to make it all work given all the men on the roster and all the money it takes to coach, recruit, and equip football teams these days. Judy Dixon has said she's tired of fighting football.
A lot of us are tired of fighting football or heck patriarchy in general--but it doesn't mean we just capitulate.
The money that gets put into football is a choice. The teams that schools choose to field is a choice. Yes, the NCAA has rules about scholarships per team; and yes, these rules need revisiting and revising. But no school is required to field a football team, fly football coaches all over the country to recruit players. (It costs a lot more per recruit to get a football player to a school than any other potential student-athlete.)
I still don't understand why people believe that football should get special treatment. The unique features of the sport already provide it certain allowances, like a large coaching staff and medical personnel who are always on site.
Taking football out of the equation gives it extra special status that is not in keeping with the mission of athletics in education. There is nothing fair about providing men 100 more athletic opportunities and oodles of money and then making every other team--men's and women's--split whatever meager piece of the pie that remains.
Interestingly, Dixon's school, UMass, is in the process of making the move from a DI-AA school to the the BCS. This will involve a multimillion dollar investment, including a new stadium. I can see why she might be frustrated even as she expresses allegiance to her institution and support of its e decision.
But if you want to take football out of the Title IX equation, you will need to take it out of the schools.

Complaint Filed Against Kentucky Board of Education

Earlier this month, the Kentucky Board of Education was the subject of a Title IX complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.  According to a press release we received, the complaint identifies a statewide pattern of gender disparities in athletics, including participation opportunities, facilities, and the scheduling of "prime time" games.  The complainant argues that the Board of Education's agent, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, endorses these disparities through its policies and practices.

It will be interesting to see whether OCR responds more favorably to a complaint about a pattern of statewide discrimination that targets a single defendant, the state Board of Education, rather  than those that target numerous individual school districts across a state, which OCR has avoided so far.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Title IX!

What are you doing to celebrate?

The Title IX Bloggers led our friends in a 40-mile bike ride to commemorate the day.  We had some uphill climbs in the first half of the ride, which we attributed to the Tower Amendment and the Reagan years, and came upon an unexpected road closure, which felt like a good metaphor for Grove City College.  But we didn't let that stop us -- Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 -- and got to enjoy some sweet downhill sections on the way home, which reminded us of some of the litigation victories Title IX has produced in its later years -- cases like Cohen, Franklin, Jackson, and Communities for Equity.  In the end the ride turned out to be a few miles more than our intended 40, which seems right because Title IX's struggle doesn't stop at the 40th anniversary.

Here are some links to more coverage of the Title IX's 40th anniversary:

Happy Anniversary, Title IX

So the Title IX Blog, in cooperation with the Northampton Women's Bike Group, did a 40th anniversary ride this morning. Forty miles (plus a couple to grow on) to commemorate 40 years.
Erin has group photos to post and a narrative about how the terrain of our ride so closely matched the ups and downs of Title IX's first 40 years.

So Happy Anniversary, Title IX.


Flexing our Title IX muscles.

The Title IX Bloggers

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More 40th Anniversary Coverage

The coverage of Title IX's 40th anniversary has been amazing. Here is another roundup of just some of the highlights.

  • The White House released its own video of Title IX celebrations held there yesterday.
  • USA Today's Christine Brennan on why Title IX is needed now more than ever.
  • ABC News has this profile of progress in women's sports; the Washington Post provides a similar story.
  • The AP compiled these statements by politicians, athletes, and leaders about Title IX's effect.
  • USA Today pays attention to women's underrepresentation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
  • The Seattle Times shares "40 memories" of Title IX's effect in the last 40 years.

"Science Fair": Music for the Budding Female Scientist in Your Life

It's easy to say that in order to close the gender gap in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), we must change the culture to normalize girls' participation in and enthusiasm for math and science.  But how?  My friend and colleague Bill, who on the weekend doubles as a kids music DJ on our local radio station, has come up with a creative contribution to that project.  He has produced a kids-music CD called Science Fair, featuring female musicians singing about science and the importance of science education for girls.  I was lucky to receive an advanced copy, which I promptly sent to my 7-month old niece.  You can pre-order a copy for the budding scientist in your life.  Proceeds benefit Girls' Inc. and their work to promote science education. 

Relatedly, Bill blogged today about the inspiration provided by his mother for this project.  She began her career as an engineer in the 1960s, and Bill got her to tell her own story of sex discrimination and the fight for sex equality.  It's a story that fits in very well with all the Title IX reflection that's going on this week, so I thought I'd share that here as well.

"The Little Statute that Could": Reflecting on Title IX's 40th Anniverary

On June 23, 1972 -- 40 years ago Saturday -- President Nixon signed into law the Education Amendments Acts of 1972.  This omnibus legislation contained many provisions of political and social significance, including a major appropriation for higher education and student loans, money to improve education for Native Americans, and most controversially, a provision postponing the implementation of court orders related to racial desegregation.  There was so much going on in the Education Amendments Act of 1972 that coverage of its passage in the New York Times devoted only a small paragraph near the end to a provision of the act that prohibits sex discrimination in education institutions that received federal funds, the provision numbered Title IX. 

Yet despite receiving little recognition at the time, Title IX is the provision with the most enduring effect on American education (the provision delaying desegregation orders was effectively overturned in court later that year).  In fact, given Title IX’s small stature, its humble origins, and all that it has overcome and accomplished since then, we celebrate this month as the anniversary of “the little statute that could.” 

Title IX has quietly ended restrictive quotas for admission of women to graduate schools and public undergraduate programs, and has opened up jobs on college faculties and administrations to women.  Title IX allows girls to take “shop” and boys to take “home ec,” and prohibits high schools from banishing pregnant teens to underfunded alternative programs.  Its application to athletics has increased exponentially opportunities for girls and women to play sports in high school and college.  It has required schools and colleges to protect students from sexual harassment and sexual violence, and to take seriously reports of instances that occur.  That’s quite a list of accomplishments for a law whose passage was reported as an afterthought. 
And these accomplishments are even more compelling when you consider all the challenges it has had to endure.  Title IX has fought off attempts to weaken it in the courts, in Congress, and in the executive branch.  It endures a constant barrage of misinformation promoting the myth that Title IX’s gains have come at the expense of men. For instance, though men’s athletic opportunities have, like women’s, steadily increased over the last 40 years, many blame Title IX for the fact that some schools and colleges choose to concentrate men’s athletic opportunities in the large-roster sport of football rather than offer men a more diverse array of opportunities.  In another example, Title IX has come under fire for providing an equal playing field to victims of campus sexual violence in the grievance process against the accused. 

It has overcome much, but our indefatigable little statute still has climbing left to do.  For all the improvements in athletics, women still lag behind men in the number of athletic opportunities at the high school and college level, as well athletic scholarship dollars.  Athletic officials sometimes forget about Title IX, such those at Adrian College in Michigan who constructed an expensive multi-sport facility, but omitted a women’s locker room.   

Educational institutions still struggle to comply with the law’s requirements to have clear policies and procedures for reporting, investigating and adjudicating sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus.  Pick a school and pretend you need to report an incident of sexual harassment or violence.  How long did it take you to find the name and contact information for your school’s Title IX Coordinator, a position that is required by law?  Is the process for reporting clear and easy to find?  At far too many educational institutions, these basic requirements are being ignored.  

Many schools also abuse the narrow permission Title IX regulations allow for single-sex classes in core subjects by segregating girls and boys on the basis of all kinds of stereotypes.  This kind of thinking is dangerous for the instinctive reactions it begets, such as the whimsy of the Dallas Independent School District to take only the fifth-grade boys to a theater for a screening of a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen.  

Finally, Title IX must struggle to ensure that all students of all sexes, races, sexual orientations, and abilities are protected from sex discrimination in the curriculum, in the enforcement of harassment and sexual violence policies, and in the distribution of athletic opportunities. Clearly, there are challenges that lie ahead for our little statute that could.  On its fortieth anniversary, let’s celebrate how far it’s come and how much it’s endured, and at the same time support Title IX in its climb toward eliminating all manners of sex discrimination in education.  I think it can.