Title IX: Women, Workers, and the World of Sports

Title IX is a landmark law that protects people against discrimination on the basis of gender. It has revolutionized college culture, hiring practices, and athletics for over 50 years. Now, after five decades in effect, we are looking back at Title IX and its effect on sports.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is a section of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act. It establishes a framework for anti-discrimination on the basis of gender and officially defines sexual assault and harassment as discriminatory. This law targets discrimination on college campuses and applies to students, professors, staff, and athletes.

According to Title IX, all genders are entitled to equal treatment including:

  • Access to tutoring
  • Support services
  • Hiring and promotion
  • Locker rooms and practice areas
  • Medical training and treatment
  • Scholarships, grants, and financial aid
  • Travel allowances
  • Fair scheduling
  • Safety
  • Coaching
  • Recruitment

Schools are required by law to report any and all Title IX violations and must inform students of the protections available to them. Some schools have specific addendums to Title IX which means that students must be aware of the differences and conditions that may exist.

Students have the right to report sexual harassment and discrimination and may pursue damages or other penalties against the reported offender. While the law exists to protect victims, it also grants certain rights to the accused.

These rights include:

  • The right to an attorney
  • The right to hear a description of the evidence
  • The right to receive notice of the charges
  • The right to present their case during an impartial hearing

These rights are important, but in many cases, they are not enough to protect those who may have been wrongly accused.

Title IX and Collegiate Sports

Prior to the establishment of Title IX, female athletes were given few opportunities to play, compete, and receive financial aid. Because of these limitations, sports groups were unable to fund themselves adequately and often used inferior equipment that posed a risk to the athlete. In 1972, only 30,000 women were competing in NCAA athletics compared to 170,000 male athletes.

Title IX leveled the playing field for female athletes that would otherwise be left in obscurity. Now, there are female championships, NCAA teams, and scholarships. In fact, studies show that women’s college basketball often outpaces the men’s league in viewership and popularity.

Not only has Title IX increased opportunities for female athletes, but it also protects against exploitation and harassment. Prior to the law, coaches could take advantage of young athletes with few consequences but now they risk losing their jobs and reputations.

The Dark Side of Title IX

While Title IX benefits female athletes, it also makes false accusations easier. False accusations are not as common, but they do occur and happen for a variety of reasons. For example, a female athlete may make accusations against her coach as revenge for being benched for the season.

Not only do false accusations take time and often, money to resolve, but they can also destroy a person’s life needlessly. Accusations for revenge or attention may result in the defendant’s termination from their position, removal from the athletic program, expulsion, and the loss of financial aid. All of these outcomes can sever a person from their well-earned opportunities.

Additionally, “crying wolf” takes away resources and attention from actual victims who may be fearful about reporting harassment or overtax the Title IX office to the point that it cannot handle actual cases. There is also little to no standardized procedure for evidence. In Illinois, Title IX evidence is the lowest civil burden.

While Title IX does grant certain rights to the accused, school boards may ignore or refuse to grant a student or faculty member’s rights during the hearing. This makes testifying on one’s behalf difficult especially if the accused cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Even if the accusations are rescinded, the damage to the person’s reputation is done. They will carry those accusations with them for life.

If you have been accused of a Title IX violation, you deserve affordable legal counsel. Contact Johnson Law Group for more information.

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