Lesson 6: Equal Protection: Gender

 

Topic:

 Is Title IX the best remedy for ending sexual discrimination in schools and universities?

 

Background:

 Efforts to combat sexual discrimination eventually led to the passage of Title IX of the Education Act Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits gender discrimination against students and others by schools and universities. Specifically, the legislation covers a number of areas including admissions, student and faculty recruitment, employment, student aid, and facilities. Furthermore, it attempts to insure equal treatment of the sexes in all athletic programs.

In the spring of 1991, as part of a campus wide budget cutback, Brown Universityís Department of Athletics and Physical Education changed the funding source for four varsity teams: menís golf, menís water polo, womenís volleyball, and womenís gymnastics. The teams continued in varsity competition but were required to raise their own operating funds. Sixty percent of athletes affected by the change were male, roughly reflecting the 60-40 ratio of men and women in Brownís varsity program at the time. Amy Cohen a female gymnast at Brown brought suit demanding that the university continue funding the womenís athletic teams at existing levels, and refrain from further cuts. Brown claimed that to accommodate Cohenís request would require the university either to raise additional funds or eliminate some athletic opportunities for men. To do the latter, Brown argued, would conflict with Title IX, resulting in the menís program suffering at the expense of the womenís program. Eventually, the case was decided by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which found that Brown violated Title IX. However, the Court asked the parties to seek a mutually acceptable remedy that would not require funds be withdrawn from the male athletic program

Title IX remains controversial today. Some argue itís the most effective remedy for ending sexual discrimination in schools and universities, while others contend it has instituted a quota system that has had a harmful effect on males.

 

Objectives:

Students will be able to:

  • Explain the major features of Title IX of the Education Act Amendments of 1972.
  • Analyze the arguments raised by the parties in the case of Cohen v. Brown.
  • Evaluate the fairness of Title IX as a means for ending sexual discrimination in schools and universities.

 

Materials:

 Handout 6A "Cohen v. Brown"

Handout 6B "Decision: Cohen v. Brown"

Handout 6C "Title IX: Editorials"

 

Time Required:

2 class periods

 

Procedures:

 Distribute Handout 6A, "Cohen vs. Brown." Have students complete the exercise on the handout. Then, as part of the whole class discussion, have them explain/answer the following:

  • What are the most important actions of this case?
  • Identify the most significant legal issue to be resolved?
  • Which were the strongest arguments raised by Cohen?
  • Which were the strongest arguments raised by Brown?

Conclude the activity related to "Cohen v. Brown" with the activity that accompanies Handout 6B, "Decision: Cohen v. Brown," describe under Performance-Based Assessment, below.

Distribute Handout 6C, "Title IX: Editorials." Have students complete the exercise on the handout, then have them explain/answer the following:

  • What are the writers saying here about Title IX?
  • What evidence did each writer provide to support their arguments about Title IX?
  • Which was the writerís strongest argument?
  • To what extent do you agree with each writer?
  • Suggest alternatives, other than Title IX to resolving the problems brought about by gender discrimination.

Distribute Handout 6B, "Decision: Cohen v. Brown." Have students complete the exercise on the activity sheet. Tell them that each student will make an oral presentation before the class, in which he or she must summarize his or decision to the class, explaining the reasons for the decision and respond to questions from the class. After completing this activity, continue with the activity related to Handout 6C, described above.

Performance Assessment:

Have students exchange letters to the editors that they wrote related Handout 6C, "Title IX: Editorial," with another student. Then have the pairs interview one another about their opinions regarding Title IX.

Have students conduct research about Title IX, then conduct a simulation of the debate that took place in Congress over the passage of Title IX.

 

Further Enrichment

Based on multiple intelligence theory.

Linguistic: Have students write a dialogue (conversation) which might have occurred between Amy Cohen opposing budget cuts in sports programs, and a representative of Brown University defending the need for the cuts.

Invite a panel of speakers from high schools and universities to class to discuss the impact of Title IX in reducing sex discrimination.

Logical/Mathematical: Students should research statistical data on participation of women in college sports since the passage of Title IX. Determine percentage changes over time. Then have students research the amount of money that schools devote to athletic programs by gender. Ask students if the research shows that Title IX led to changes in funding or if there are other factors that affected funding.

Have students research developments in sexual discrimination in schools and universities that have occurred since the passage of Title IX. Use figures to demonstrate the impact Title IX has had on reducing sex discrimination.

Spatial: Students should design a stamp or coin to commemorate the passage of Title IX.

Kinesthetic: Select four locations in the classroom and tape sheets from flip charts to the wall. Each sheet should contain a statement supporting or opposing Title IX of the Education Act Amendments of 1972. Tell students to rotate to each sheet and write supporting information for the statement. If they cannot think of any supporting information, they should move to the sheet with the next statement.

Intrapersonal: Have students write three words that express their feelings about Title IX and ask them to explain why they selected these words.

Interpersonal: The teacher should raise the question: Is Title IX the best remedy for ending gender discrimination in education or will it lead to further discrimination? Divide the class into groups of four students each. Students count off within groups so that each student has the number 1,2,3 or 4. The group will convene to discuss the question. Each of the four members of the group must be prepared to accurately express the opinion of the entire group. The teacher then calls a number 1,2,3 or 4 and students with that number raise their hand and respond.

Musical: Select music that sets the mood for conflict, and play that music for the class before students begin the debate used during the performance assessment. 

  • Have students research developments, regarding sexual discrimination in schools and universities, that have occurred since the passage of Title IX. Then have them assess the impact Title IX has had on reducing sex discrimination.
  • Invite a panel of speakers from high schools and universities to class to discuss the impact of Title IX in reducing sex discrimination.

 


Handout 6A: EQUAL PROTECTION: GENDER

 

Cohen v. Brown

After reading the page below, complete the exercise on the next page:

Title IX is a section of the 1972 Federal Education Amendments that states "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex ... be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Furthermore, it states that equal opportunities for athletics must be provided for both sexes in the same ratio as the schoolís enrollment.

For the 1991-92 school year, Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island) had a student enrollment that was nearly 50% male, 50% female. In April, 1991, as part of a campus wide budget cutback, Brownís Department of Athletics and Physical Education changed the funding source for four varsity teams: menís golf, menís water polo, womenís volleyball and womenís gymnastics. The teams would continue in varsity competition but were required to raise their own operating funds. 60% percent of the athletes affected by the change were male. Amy Cohen, a female gymnast and others, brought suit asking that the university continue to fund the womenís athletic teams as before and refrain from further cuts.

Cohen argued that according to Title IX equal opportunities for athletics must be provided for both sexes in the same ratio as the schoolís enrollment," -- in Brownís case that would mean that roughly 50% of the athletes should be female. Cohenís attorneys contended that the funding cuts planned by Brown would result in even fewer females competing than the 39% participating at the time -- way below the 50% that the law required.

For its part, Brown insisted that it was a national leader in womenís athletics, ranking second in the number of NCAA-sponsored sports it offered. Moreover, Brown pointed out that nationally 69 per cent of those who participate in intercollegiate athletics are men and 31 per cent are women. Brownís 61-39 ratio placed it near the top of Division I institutions according to a 1991 study on gender equity. Brown claimed that to accommodate Cohenís request would require the university to find the additional funds necessary to continue expanding womenís teams, or eliminate opportunities for men. To do so, Brown argued, would conflict with Title IX, resulting in the menís program suffering at the expense of the womenís program

 

 

Cohen v. Brown

 

Exercise:

I. Using only the space below, summarize the facts of the case most important to reaching a legal decision:

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II. Using the actions, values and legal basis related to this case, indicate Cohenís two strongest arguments below:

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2.

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III. Using the actions, values and legal basis, related to this case, indicate Brownís two strongest arguments below:

1.

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2.

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Handout 6B: EQUAL PROTECTION: GENDER

 

Decision: Cohen v. Brown"

 

Assume you are the judge who was asked to decide this case. Write your decision in the space below, including the actions, values and legal basis related to the case:

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Handout 6C: EQUAL PROTECTION: GENDER

Title IX: Editorials

Exercise: Read the editorials below, written about Title IX. Underline the two strongest arguments raised by each writer. Then, write a letter to the editor expressing your opinion of the arguments raised in the editorials.

Title IX: Unfair and Unnecessary

In 1972, Title IX was enacted to create more opportunities for female collegiate athletes. Has the program worked? Yes. Female participation is at an all-time high, while the menís teams have been pared down or cut completely. Are these cuts for the sake of gender equity really necessary? Absolutely not, Title IX is a biased and shortsighted way of solving the gender equity problem, and it should be eliminated.

Title IX has required schools to meet quotas. If a school has 50% female population, then the law says it should have 50% of the programs. What Title IX advocates have failed to realize is that females do not participate in sports in the numbers that males participate. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations sports participation survey, 61.2% of high school athletes were male. Only 38.8% were female. Given these statistics, it would seem only fair that men should be given more programs and money for their sports.

From 1992-1995, NCAA athletic departments have eliminated 69 menís programs. Out of that number 10 swimming, 12 wrestling, 8 tennis and 4 baseball teams have all been eliminated. These are neither low profile programs, nor are they extremely expensive, but they have all fallen prey to "equity." I called the University of Wisconsin athletic office and was told that even if alumni pledged enough money to keep the baseball program going, Title IX would prevent it from bringing baseball back unless a womenís team was also created.

Title IX isnít gender equity. Itís a quota system that has few benefits and too many hard decisions for universities. Letís hope that Title IX will be repealed and fast.

Clint Walkner, The Badger-Herald (University of Wisconsin), Spring 1996

 

Twenty-Five Years After Title IX: Women Gain Steps, Not Leaps

When Congress passed Title IX in 1972, very few opportunities existed for girls and women to participate in high school and college athletics. To get the ball rolling toward equity, Title IX was signed into law, affecting all schools that receive federal funding of any sort, whether for school lunches or student financial aid.

Title IX has impacted women athletes. More U.S. women than ever before competed in the last Olympics, and womenís teams won gold medals in gymnastics, basketball, soccer and softball. Two womenís professional basketball leagues launched their inaugural seasons this year, and professional soccer and softball leagues are in the planning stages. And improvements continue from grade school through college.

However, despite the gains in access to athletic participation for women, athletic equity is not a reality. In a series of stories marking the 25th anniversary of Title IX, USA Today surveyed 303 Division I schools and found that since 1992, the number of women athletes has increased 22% to 43,712 in 1995-96. But they also found that "for every $1 spent on womenís college sports, $3 is spent on menís," with women receiving only 38% of scholarship funds and 27% recruiting funds.

Linda Joplin, Chair, California NOW Athletic Equity Committee