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Title IX is part of the Education Amendments of 1972 in the US that deals with ensuring equal rights and representation of women in education. While the language within the amendment specifically deals with gender in general, the use of this and other aspects of the Education Amendments of 1972 have primarily involved the rights of women. This amendment basically states that any school or educational program that receives federal funding cannot exclude a person from activities based on gender. Title IX does not have any specific reference to athletics, though it has been used primarily to ensure gender equality in athletics programs at schools and universities.
Also referred to as Title Nine, and renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act after the congresswoman who drafted and proposed it, Title IX deals with educational institutions that receive federal funding. The language used in Title IX specifically states that, “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.” This was written in a way that allows it to be applied to a number of different aspects of educational programs, though it has typically been applied to athletics.
One of the key ways in which Title IX has been interpreted and upheld since its passing is in the decision that if federal funding is received for any part of a program, then the entire program must satisfy this law. This means that if a school receives funding that goes toward paying for tuition or books, then other departments that are not federally funded, such as sports or performing arts, must still comply with Title IX. While this law only indicates that education programs that receive federal funding must comply with these regulations, several states in the US have passed laws requiring compliance for educational programs within the state.
There are several exceptions allowed by Title IX, including sororities and fraternities and programs that are segregated but still equal, such as sexual education courses in public school. The test used to ensure compliance, called the “three-prong test,” typically calls for a school to have a proportionate number of programs available for each gender, to be increasing programs for the underrepresented gender, or to accommodate the interests of the underrepresented gender. Critics of Title IX often claim that these tests only consider the underrepresented sex, which ultimately promotes reverse discrimination against the majority. Defenders of this law, however, hold that the law does not require programs to be eliminated; only that sufficient programs are offered for both sexes.