(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined a bipartisan group of Senators, athletes and women's sports activists at a press conference supporting existing Title IX policies.
Since it's enactment in 1972, Title IX has opened the doors to athletics, education and success for 2.8 million young women across America. The press conference coincides with the submission by the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics' of its final report with recommendations for sweeping changes to Title IX policies.
Senator Murray and her colleagues released a bipartisan letter to President Bush urging him to keep in place current Title IX athletics policies. Donna de Varona and Julie Foudy, both Olympic Gold Medalists and members of the Commission, issued a Minority Report that addresses the continuing discrimination against female athletes and the need for strong enforcement of Title IX policies, as well as the serious deficiencies in the Commission's process and report.
Geena Davis, an award-winning actress and nationally-ranked archer announced her support for a nationwide public education campaign to "Save Title IX."
Senator Murray's Remarks and the text of the letter follow:
Remarks by Patty Murray at a Title IX Press Conference
Since 1972, Title IX has opened the doors to athletics, education and success for millions of young women across America. For thirty years the program has increased participation under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, because Title IX is not about politics - it is about helping young women realize their dreams.
I am here today because I know that behind all the statistics, the lives of many women have been improved because of the changes brought about through Title IX.
I've seen how Title IX has changed the experiences of the women in my own family.
The atmosphere was much different when I went to school thirty years ago. Back then at Washington State University, I could participate in just a few sports and women receiving athletic scholarships was unheard of.
Fifteen years later it was amazing to watch my own daughter choose to play soccer -learning how to play on and be part of a team, cheering each other on, and learning how to be gracious in victory and defeat. The difference between my daughter's generation and my own could not be more stark.
One of my favorite memories is when I watched my daughter's high school friends compete in the High School Basketball Championships when she was a junior. When they won the state championship it was a dream come true. Women of my generation never had the chance to go to college on a sports scholarship, even though many deserved them. The difference is that some of my daughter's friends have done just that.
Not all girls -- and not all boys -- will be state champions or Olympic Stars. But all of them should have the chance to learn to work together, do their best, fight hard, and be proud of their own abilities. Isn't that what America is all about?
There is no doubt that Title IX has opened doors for women between the time I went to school and my daughter went to school. The challenge for all of us, today, is to make sure those doors of opportunity stay open for our granddaughters and great-granddaughters. Our civil rights laws, represent our attempt to build a nation of equal opportunity, finally guaranteeing that every child has the chance to reach her dreams.
I am very concerned that the report being submitted today by the Title IX Commission will prevent future generations of young women from making these dreams come true. Our goal must be to build upon the progress of the last 30 years - not to take us backwards. That is why I am sending a letter to Senator Gregg, Chair of the HELP Committee asking for a hearing on the process and recommendations of the Commission.
I remain committed to doing all that I can to protect Title IX and the future of every girl in Washington state and around the country who dreams of making the team, wearing a uniform, or winning an athletic scholarship. I urge President Bush to protect existing Title IX policies and give every young girl in America the chance to experience the roar of a crowd - and not just cheer from the sidelines.
Text of A Letter to the President
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express our strong support for existing Title IX regulations and policies governing participation in athletics and to urge you to reject any recommendations made by the Commission on Athletic Opportunity to change the Title IX athletics policies and regulations. We believe that the recommendations would dismantle Title IX protections and dramatically reduce the sports participation opportunities and scholarships to which women.
The Commission's recommendations, which focus on changes to the three-part test, would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of athletics opportunities for women and girls. For example, under one of the proposals, schools could restrict their female students to 47% of the athletics opportunities and scholarships no matter how large the percentage of women in the student body or how many want to play. It is estimated that women at a typical Division I-A school would lose 50,000 participation opportunities and $122 million in scholarships under this proposal. Another proposal Other proposals would allow schools to manipulate the way they count their male and female students and athletes in order to artificially deflate the number of male athletes and inflate the number of female athletes. Thus, the recommendations approved by the Commission would weaken Title IX and reduce, rather than increase, opportunities for women and girls to participate in athletics.
Indeed, strong enforcement of existing Title IX policies is critical to combat continuing discrimination against women in athletics programs. For example, although women in Division I colleges comprise 53% of the student body, they receive only 41% of the opportunities to play intercollegiate sports; 43% of athletic scholarship dollars; 36% of athletic operating budgets; and 32% of the dollars spent to recruit new athletes. Disparities also persist at the high school level, where female athletes comprise only 42% of the students involved in school-sponsored sports, and anecdotal evidence and court cases strongly suggest that male and female athletes are not treated equally.
What is necessary is strengthened enforcement - not modification -- of the Department of Education's athletics policies. The Department should focus its resources on providing enhanced technical assistance, based on and consistent with the current existing Department guidance, on the means by which schools can comply with all aspects of Title IX, including the three-part test. Such enhanced technical assistance would provide a valuable service to schools that continue to lag behind in providing equal athletics opportunities for women and girls.
It is clear that the public overwhelmingly supports strong enforcement of existing Title IX standards. A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll done in January 2003 found that 7 of ten adults familiar with Title IX think the law should be strengthened or left alone. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll done the same month found that 66% of Americans go so far as to favor cutting men's teams in order to ensure equal athletics opportunities for women.
Congress enacted Title IX in 1972 to address widespread sex discrimination against women in athletics and all other aspects of their education. After 30 years of Title IX, women and girls now have greater opportunities to play sports, receive scholarships, and obtain other important benefits that flow from sports participation. But much work remains to achieve gender equity in athletics programs. Like every past Administration, both Republican and Democratic, we urge you to reaffirm the current athletics policies and to reject any changes to those policies proposed by the Commission.
United States Senators Tom Daschle, Edward Kennedy, Patty Murray, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, & Patrick Leahy.