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Title IX 40 years later

By Teresa Collier | Published 23 Jul 2012 05:08pm | comments

This summer marks the fortieth anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the federal legislation that dramatically increased opportunities for women to play sports at the high school and college levels. But a new report says that Georgia and other Southern states still lag behind. Maura Walz of the Southern Education Desk reports.

 Women’s high school soccer players and their coaches from around the state train under the grueling sun here at a camp hosted by the University of Georgia.

These athletes love their teams. But many also say they notice a difference between the status of girls and boys sports teams in the culture of their schools.

Hendrix: It’s been really good for me. Like, they do good with girls sports. They do help fund guys sports a lot better, but girls are pretty good.

Guinn:  Boys get a lot more credit for sports, and girls don?t get as much. (0:05)

Erickson:  I feel like not as many people would come to girls games when they do boys? I don’t  really know why that is but I feel like they get a lot more attention than girls?

Anna Erickson, who plays at Northview High School, says she thinks there are more sports offered for boys than for girls.

Erickson: Like, no girls play football and I know a bunch of boys in high school that play rugby , but I don’t know any girls that play that sport. So I think there are more opportunities for boys to play sports.

It’s that disparity of opportunity that Title IX was meant to remedy. But state and federal data show that Georgia and many other Southern states are lagging behind in providing equitable access and funding for women’s sports.  A new report from the National Women’ Law Center says Georgia has the highest percentage of high schools in the nation more than 70 percent  that don’t have an adequate ratio of female athletes compared to female students, a sign that the school may not be in compliance. Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana were the next lowest-ranked states.  Neena Chaudhry, a senior counsel at the center that did the analysis, says Georgia districts should know when there’s a problem.

Chaudhry: Georgia is one of the few states around the country that has such a law that provides it with data from school districts and schools that would let it do a better job ensuring compliance.

Chaudhry is referring to Georgia’s Gender Equity in Schools Act, which was passed in 2000; it requires schools to report to the state their participation rates and expenditures on girls and boys sports. But Title IX enforcement on the high school level is handled not by state or local governments, but by the federal Department of Education, which Chaudhry says hasn’t had the resources to devote to the issue. 

Chaudhry: I think many schools frankly don’t do the self-evaluation that they should be doing because they don’t really think ? there’s no one out there really enforcing the law, so they can essentially do what they want until they get caught.

 

Chaudhry also says that it’s difficult to know why exactly the disparity in girls? Sports participation is so high in Southern states.

But Jennifer Crawford, who coaches the girls’ soccer team at Berkmar High School and who is at the UGA camp with her players says that the answer is probably complicated. In her school, for example, poverty plays a big role.

Crawford1: Kids come in, they’re there for a year, their parents find work elsewhere, and they move. So the team unity and having that opportunity based on what’s going on in their personal lives, doesn’t always allow for us to have for the school support in athletics that we would like and that I experienced at the high school I went to.

But Crawford also says the creation of more sports scholarships for girls is driven by the passage of Title IX -- motivates many of her young players, even in a high school where support for sports might be low.

Crawford2: And you know, a lot of them will want to find a better life for themselves, so they’re using the sport to maybe get a scholarship and they’re using the academics to help take them to the next level.

And that’s progress, Crawford says. Advocates like Chaudhry are trying to make sure that young female athletes in Georgia and around the South see even more opportunities.

From the Southern Education Desk in Atlanta, I’m Maura Walz.

 

 

 

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