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Statement on the 50th Anniversary of Title IX from MAEC President Susan Shaffer

June 23, 2022

Title IX is the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in any school or education program that receives federal funding. Signed into law 50 years ago today, Title IX changed the course of education and our history. It creates equitable learning opportunities for all K-12 and higher education students, and has paved the way for new and greater levels of achievement.

My life changed when Title IX passed in 1972. As a young woman in high school, I was not allowed to play full-court basketball or take technical courses, nor were boys allowed in home economics. When I got married, the only way I could open a credit card was by using my husband’s name. As a new teacher, I was not allowed to wear pants to school or teach after twelve weeks of pregnancy. Because of Title IX, these restrictions no longer exist for my daughter, granddaughter, and generations to come.

Title IX has affected so many areas of gender equity in the realms of K-12 and higher education: students are protected from sexual harassment and gender-based violence, there are increased opportunities in sports and athletics, pregnant and parenting students can pursue their education, and more women have joined the STEM workforce. The law continues to be interpreted in new ways that protect more students, including most recently the expansion to support LGBTQ+ students.

Just because a law exists, doesn’t mean the disparities go away. Gender stereotyping continues to limit opportunities. Continuing and pervasive sexual harassment, especially through social media, with rates even higher for students who are LGBTQ+ and students of color, hinders those victims from being able to thrive. As we look to the next 50 years, we advocate for continued training, leadership, monitoring, and enforcement; and increased funding to ensure Title IX compliance and gender equity. We must never take our rights and responsibilities for granted.

We tell our children, “You can be whatever you want to be.” They can – with an environment and the opportunities to choose their path based on personal interests, skills, and abilities, and not because of gender, race, national origin, socioeconomic status, or ability. Title IX ensures that. Here’s to celebrating 50 years of increased gender equity and to all those who made this celebration possible.


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