On June 23, 2022, Title IX, the federal law opposing sex-based discrimination in schools, will be 50 years old. It reads as follows:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
According to Tamie Willis, the Title IX Coordinator for Oklahoma Christian University, most people are aware of Title IX, but not of how it affects them.
“I suspect it is like most things people deal with,” Willis said. “Until they or someone they care for are in a situation where they need the protection of the Title IX statute, they may not think it is relevant to them. However, when the need arises, it is very relevant.”
Some of the main protections afforded by Title IX include sexual harassment, educational access and prohibiting discrimination in sports.
“Unfortunately, statistics show that sexual harassment in the United States is widespread and underreported, and OC students are not immune to this,” Willis said. “As the Title IX Coordinator and through other services OC offers, we can only help a student if we are aware of the need.”
Over the years, the Title IX office has helped countless people process formal Title IX complaints. However, their office also provides alternatives for those who do not wish to file formal complaints.
Some alternatives include mediation, counseling for one or both parties involved, no contact agreements, changing classes, engaging with a mentor or discussing options for the future.
This facet of Title IX’s protection is also significant due to sexual harassment being known to deter equal access to institutional activities and education opportunities, according to Willis.
When President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law 50 years ago, its aim was to balance men and women’s access to education. Statistics from a Justice.gov report show some of what Title IX has changed in the educational system.
Prior to the 1970s, only 59% of women had a high school education. Under Title IX’s protection, that figure grew to 87% by 2009, and the same figure for college degrees grew from 8% to 28%.
These imbalances extended to sports as well, according to History.com.
170,000 men participated in college athletics in 1972 compared to 30,000 women. Since Title IX’s introduction, the number of female athletes at the collegiate level has grown to more than 150,000 while at the high school level it has increased from 295,000 to over 2.6 million athletes.
Willis said people today do not always realize the change Title IX brought about.
“Our nation has had a long history of sex discrimination, so our current students are protected by Title IX in ways we take for granted now,” Willis said.
Payton Duesing, a track and field athlete, said she is grateful for Title IX, particularly the change it has brought to sports for Oklahoma Christian.
“As a woman, I have firsthand witnessed how men seem to be granted more opportunities in the workplace, (in) life in general and are even looked at more than women for positions of leadership and advancement,” Duesing said. “I appreciate Title IX for granting these same worldly chances and protections for women in sports. The world of sports is a place I feel just as included, important and valued as men, and for that I am very thankful.”
Willis said she hopes people will come forward with any concerns they may have.
“If anyone has questions or wants a better understanding of their protections under Title IX, I hope they will come talk to me,” Willis said. “If a member of our campus community has been sexually harassed, I hope they will come talk to me. I can help a student understand what options they have.”
For Willis, it is more than a matter of duty.
“Title IX is government mandated, but caring for our students is what we are called to do as followers of Christ,” Willis said.
Willis provided the following contact information. Office: MLC 206. Phone number: (405) 425-6364. Email: email@example.com.