Title IX—Beyond Athletics

June 22, 2012

You may have heard that June 23, 2012, marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX.  As a female athlete growing up in the 1990s, I undoubtedly benefited from this monumental piece of legislation.  And yet, I am embarrassed to admit, I am rather unfamiliar with the law—its details, its scope, and, particularly, the events giving rise to its enactment—other than knowing it mandated equal resources and opportunities for women in sports.  Resolving that the statute’s 40th birthday is an ideal time to close this gaping hole in my ken, I delved into the history of Title IX using WestlawNext.

Congress passed Title IX as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Pub. L. No. 92-318, §§ 901–909, 86 Stat. 235, 373–375.  It is codified at 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1681–1688 (West 2012).  The name, “Title IX,” actually refers to the portion of the public law in which the pertinent legislation appears.   And from the name of the law itself, you may have correctly guessed that the scope of the legislation extends far beyond women and athletics.  In fact, nowhere in Title IX are sports even mentioned.  The essential language reads: “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. . . .” 20 U.S.C.A. § 1681.

Title IX began as a measure to level the playing field for women in academia, not athletics.  See, e.g., H.R. Rep. No. 92-554 (1971), as reprinted in 1972 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2462, 2511–12; 117 Cong. Rec. 1334–88 (daily ed. Aug. 6, 1971, Aug. 5, 1971) (giving Senator Birch Bayh’s statement as he introduced the bill in the Senate).  Its central aim, at the time of its passage, was to correct discriminatory practices in the hiring and employment of women by federally financed institutions of higher education.  Id.  In addition, the legislation sought to end the customary policies of many college admissions offices that demanded higher admissions criteria for female student applicants.  Id. 

The origins of Title IX can be traced to bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate—Representative Edith Green of Oregon introduced the Higher Education Act of 1971, H.R. 7248, on April 6, 1971, and Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana introduced key amendments to the Education Amendments of 1971 Act, S. 659, on August 5, 1971.  H.R. 7248, 92d Cong. (1st Sess. 1971); Amendment No. 398, S. 659, 92d Cong. (1st Sess. 1971).  Congress reconciled the separate bills by conference committee in early 1972.  S. Rep. No. 92-798 (1972), as reprinted in 1972 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2608, 2671–72 (Conf. Rep.).  When President Nixon eventually signed the bill into law on June 23, 1972, he made no comments about the Title IX provision.  See Education Amendments of 1972, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Bill Into Law, Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 1084–85 (June 23, 1972).

Of course, since its passage 40 years ago, Title IX has undergone some changes.  For example, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Grove City College v. Bell, 465 U.S. 555, 104 S. Ct. 1211 (1984), where the Court pronounced the statute to apply only to those programs receiving direct federal aid and not schools-at-large if the only assistance provided is through direct student grants, Congress amended Title IX to state specifically that it applies to all recipient institutions, whether federal assistance is direct or indirect.  Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, Pub. L. No. 100-259, § 3(a), 102 Stat. 28 (1988) (codified at 20 U.S.C.A. § 1687 (West 2012)).

Additional information on the history of Title IX, including other amendments, can be found by viewing the statute, 20 U.S.C.A. § 1681, in WestlawNext.  From there, you can use the History tab to find different versions of the legislation throughout the years.  Also, the Notes of Decisions tab will provide you with a list of editorially selected cases that have involved or interpreted Title IX, conveniently organized by topic area—topics ranging from Employment & Tenure to Elimination of Athletic Programs.


Research Tip:

Searching for legislative history can be cumbersome at best, I’d-rather-pull-my-hair-out frustrating at worst.  But WestlawNext makes it easy.  I retrieved all of the congressional documents and presidential statements listed in this post by searching for the public law number—Title IX’s founding document, found in the Credits field of the statute itself—within the Legislative History content page.  I searched for:

p.l. (p. pub. public /3 law l.) +3 92-318

This search returned a number of documents mentioning Pub. L. No. 92-318 from within the Congressional Record, the U.S. Code Legislative History, and U.S. GAO Federal Legislative History content pages.  To narrow down to material existing prior to the passage of the law, I used the Filters to impose a date restriction. I searched for all material existing prior to June 24, 1972.