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Murray Celebrates 33rd Anniversary of Title IX, Urges Protection of Law

Jun 22 2005

Senator applauds Seattle Storm, speaks of own experiences with athletics

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined with a bi-partisan group of colleagues from the House and Senate as well as Olympic gold medalists and young female athletes to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of Title IX and discuss her concerns with recent efforts to weaken it.



“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,” Senator Murray said. “I urge Secretary Spellings and 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.”



On March 17, 2005, the U.S. Department of Education issued a new Title IX policy that threatens to reverse the decades of progress women and girls have made in sports. Under the Administration’s “Clarification,” schools can now claim they are fully meeting women's interests in sports based simply on the responses, or lack of responses, to an e-mail survey asking female students about their interests in sports. This under-the-radar attack on Title IX's application to athletics was issued without public notice or opportunity for public comment.



“The only thing this policy ‘clarifies’ is that the Administration is willing to use stealth tactics to reverse decades of progress for young women and girls. I am 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,” Murray said.





Full transcript of Senator Murray's remarks follow:



Since 1972, Title IX has opened the doors to athletics, education and success for millions of young women across America. For thirty-three 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 to 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.



And I could not be more proud of my home state of Washington which this year not only became the first state in the nation to boast two women Senators and a woman Governor, but is also home to the reigning WNBA champions – the Seattle Storm.



Let me tell you what one member of the Storm, Sue Bird, had to say about the difference Title IX has made in her own life:



“Title IX had a direct result with me. It's because of Title IX that I'm able to play basketball now, and that I was able to play in high school and college and so on. I think it's done great things for women in sports.”



Now not all girls -- and not all boys -- will be state champions or the next Sue Bird 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 Department of Education’s new “clarification” creates a major loophole through which schools can avoid their duty to provide equal opportunity in sports. In fact, the only thing this policy clarifies is that the Administration is willing to use stealth tactics to reverse decades of progress for young women and girls. I am 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 Secretary Spellings and 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.