Working to strengthen Title IX
As we mark National Girls and Women in Sports Day Wednesday, Feb. 1, we commend all women athletes, their past and current sports achievements, the positive influence of sports participation, as well as the continuing struggle for equality. In Delaware, we have a proud track record of girls and women in sports. Our small state is full of incredible female athletes, including some with worldwide recognition, like WNBA player and Olympic Gold Medalist Elena Delle Donne and five-time member of the U.S. women’s national gymnastics team and 2017 world all-around champion gymnast Morgan Elizabeth Hurd.
Both Elena and Morgan were lucky to grow up in a time when women and girls had opportunities to play sports. Unfortunately, before the passage of Title IX in 1972, things looked very different for female athletes. 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 subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Prior to 1972, while 3.6 million boys participated in high school sports, just under 300,000 girls participated. Fortunately, since the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, girls’ participation in high school sports has increased by over 3 million. In short, Title IX has opened the doors for girls to unlock their limitless potential and pursue their dreams through athletic participation.
Years of extensive national research shows girls who play sports earn better grades, see more success in male-dominated fields and lead healthier lives. The impact continues even after they leave their sport – 92% of female C-suite-level executives are former athletes, and half played sports at the collegiate level. While sports inspire youth to be positive, healthy and confident, historically, boys have had more opportunities to achieve their athletic goals. That male advantage in sports continues today, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation, noting that girls still have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than boys.
Despite more than 50 years of progress, we know that we have more work do to for Delaware women and girls to see the full promise of Title IX. We are committed to meeting Title IX requirements to provide girls with the tools they need to reach their athletic goals. When it comes to physical and social-emotional health, Delaware strives to offer girls as many opportunities as possible. That’s why the Delaware Department of Education and the Office of Women’s Advancement & Advocacy have spent the last several months developing a plan to strengthen Title IX in Delaware. The plan focuses our efforts in three main areas:
- Increase public awareness with the inclusion of Title IX information and resources on the website of the Delaware Department of Education, with encouragement for schools and districts to do the same. Easily accessible information allows for students and families to know their rights under Title IX and keeps the process for remedying issues clear. To maintain this clarity, the Delaware Department of Education will add information related to Title IX, including the names and contact info for each district’s Title IX coordinator, to its website. Delaware Department of Education also will make a recommendation to school districts that they include Title IX information on their websites in a place easily accessible by students and parents
- Increase knowledge of Title IX training. A state effort to provide timely, regular Title IX training for all relevant staff can help schools, athletic directors, administrators and others such as DIAA with the necessary guidance to comply with Title IX and promote gender equity
- Increase data collection and reporting to provide transparency on Title IX compliance. The Delaware Department of Education, in conjunction with the Delaware Office of Women’s Advancement & Advocacy, will collaborate with Delaware public school districts and charters to consider a survey related to Title IX compliance. Such a survey would be completed by every public and charter school providing middle and/or interscholastic athletic opportunities in Delaware.
Through these Title IX enhancements, Delaware is furthering its commitment to assuring equity in athletics. Delaware Department of Education and Delaware Office of Women’s Advancement & Advocacy will collaborate with the local education agencies to support athletics by proactively identifying potential issues and allowing for timely resolution.
While not every Delaware girl will be the next Elena Delle Donne or Morgan Elizabeth Hurd, it is our commitment to make sure all girls can gain the many benefits of playing sports. And with this plan in place, Delaware will be poised to continue to build on the promise of Title IX for future generations.