The Talk About Title IX

WBHS Students tell all about how they feel about WBHS' compliance of Title IX.

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The Talk About Title IX

Lauryn Azu and Ryan Horwitz

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Recently, sophomores in Mr. Joshua Johnson’s  AP U.S. History classes have discussed WBHS’ compliance of Title IX, which has sparked interesting debates between students. According to Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Passed in 1972, most people who know about Title IX think it applies only to leveling the playing field between boys and girls in  sports. However, athletics is only one of 10 key areas addressed by the amendment.  However, since this law is so broad , this article will only be focusing on Title IX’s impact on athletics at WBHS. A variety of members of the WBHS community were asked about this topic including students, athletes, teachers, and coaches, on how they feel about the changes made by this law, and whether or not WBHS is following Title IX to the best of its ability

 

Title IX has three different sections, effective accommodation of interest, financial assistance, and equivalence in other benefits and opportunities. Under effective accommodation, young women and girls must be given a proportionate amount of opportunity in their schools based on proportion in enrollment. Secondly, the school must have shown growth from the past three to five years in sports offers for girls. Lastly, women’s interests and abilities must be fully accounted for and checked upon to maintain their level of happiness.

 

Because of this law, WBHS’ offerings of athletics has changed over time. Before Title IX was passed, instead of just organized sports for girls, WBHS offered the Girl’s Athletic  Association. In this group members could participate in sports such as field hockey, basketball, softball, track and field, and volleyball, and the group operated as an after school club instead of as a team. Since then, athletics for girls has skyrocketed, as WB now offers a variety sports teams including  gymnastics, figure skating, volleyball, field hockey, and lacrosse to name a few. According to Mr. Stewart Bronstein, math teacher and former softball coach at WBHS, Title IX has came a long way. He says, “I remember that there was a point where [coaches] didn’t even get paid the same amount. Baseball coaches and softball coaches were paid differently.” Over the years Mr. Bronstein has fought for the rights of the girls on his team, and is proud of how far things have come since his beginning at WBHS.

Most students are not educated about their rights under Title IX. Students in federally funded school districts have the right to equal opportunities in all aspects of coed schooling, not just in athletics. If they feel like they are being deprived of their rights, students can report their complaints to the the Title IX coordinator of their district, which every district is required to have. The Title IX coordinator for West Bloomfield School District is Mr. Arthur Ebert, and he says that, “ The district follows Title IX protocols when making decisions both in athletics and academics. The biggest struggle is making sure we have the time and space in our facilities to allow for all of the opportunities and activities that our students participate in.”

 

According to the National Women’s Law Center, “The playing field is far from level for female athletes, despite Title IX’s considerable successes.” It is true that many students, both boys and girls, feel that WBHS could at  least educate students about what they are entitled to. Athletic Director of WBHS Mr. Eric Pierce agrees that students have a right to be educated saying, “Title IX is extremely important because it is an issue that encompasses far more than just an athletic perspective, it deals with students rights to be treated fairly as a whole.” Mikayla Asher, a sophomore who competes in both track and cheer, feels that boys and girls at WBHS do not get fair opportunities in sports. She claims that, “Male dominated sports get better game nights, first priority on practice fields, and better quality equipment.” Alexa Cohen, a sophomore at WBHS who plays softball commented, “In general I feel like [the administration] take some of the sports more serious. I think that more people would come to a football game of all guys than a field hockey game of just girls, regardless if they were winners or not. Just because it’s a more serious sport.”

 

Other students feel that there is no problem.  Davion Johnson, a junior, claimed that, “Anyone can earn their playing spot on any team, and they get chances to play sports that they may have never played before.” Davion has played basketball and football over the course of his years at WB. However other students, such as Emily Falkowski, a sophomore who plays on WBHS Varsity Girl’s Soccer, acknowledge that there is an underlying problem in the way WBHS views male and female athletics. She says that, “you don’t ever see any  girl’s sports get that kind of recognition. And I understand that other boy’s sports don’t get the same recognition as football, but girl’s sports rarely get any recognition.” Still others, such as Rishabh Parekh, a sophomore on Varsity Boy’s Tennis, say that,  “the argument that boys sports get more attention over girls sports is not true because there are boys teams which do not get support as well. It is economically and financially based.”  The administration confirms Parekh’s statement, as Mr. Pierce assured that, “Money is spent from the athletics budget to support school sponsored sports for supplies they need.” However, it was not clear how exactly the athletic budget is divided.

 

Overall a majority of students, when asked about representation in athletics, cited major sports programs such as football and basketball as a source of the lack of equality in athletics. Many athletes, particularly female athletes, feel that more attention is given to male dominated sports such as football giving them the most opportunities for success. Some say that the football team is given more power because they have first priority over WBHS’ only field, where many sports teams  practice. Other issues such as playing schedules and uniforms have arisen conflict as well. A handful of female athletes spoken to say that they struggle with their uniforms while larger teams such as football and hockey get newer uniforms. According to Ethan Jackson, a senior on the Varsity football team, the reason why sports like football have to get newer uniforms is because they go through a lot during practice and on the field. “We get new game jerseys every three to four years, but the last ones we had for six years.” He went on to say that he does not believe that football gets first priority above other sports, as [Coach Bellamy] won’t force other teams who are practicing off, he doesn’t care about where we practice.” Football’s presence at WBHS and what the team represents in the community is one of the reasons why it may seem that it receives all the attention.

 

It is not that girls sports do not have the opportunity to impact the community like football, because every sport has its own way of creating a newer and more improved West Bloomfield High School and community. Football undoubtedly receives the most attention of any sport, and many girls feel that they do not get the attention they deserve for their sports, such as field hockey and lacrosse. The underlying issue is that girls do not have the opportunity to play on a sport that receives equal attention and status as large boy’s sports such as football and basketball. Girl’s sports, although it may not seem like it, are just as important as football and other boys sports because they pave new areas for students to travel upon.

 

Title IX has been and will continue to be a major debate, as the fight for equality in public schools and universities continues  While there are those who feel this amendment takes enough action, and those who feel that it should take more effect, the everlasting impact it has had in America is evident. Support it or not, it cannot be denied that this bill has given generations of American women the opportunity to enrich themselves through athletics. As time goes on, Title IX will eventually will take full effect, creating a more equal world.  

 

If you are interested for more information on Title IX, you can visit these sites for more research:

http://www.titleix.info/

http://knowyourix.org/title-ix-in-high-school-the-basics/

http://www.pbs.org/video/2330969949

http://www.feminist.org/education/titleix.asp/

http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion/title-ix-frequently-asked-questions

 

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