"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."
What is Title IX and who was responsible for initiating, enacting, and strengthening it?
Explore the tabs below to learn about Title IX champions! Watch the videos and explore this online guide to learn more!
Short video gives the basics of Title IX, that it prohibits sex discrimination in education, that its protections include men and nonbinary people, that it is not only about sports, and more. From Amy Poehler's Smart Girls. Duration: approx.1 minute 42 seconds.
The list of Title IX champions was inspired by ACLU's Title IX - The Nine, which unfortunately falls into the common Internet mistake of misstating who authored Title IX.
Dr. Bernice Sandler had numerous first-hand experiences with sex discrimination in education, first being denied entrance to graduate programs and later being rejected from consideration for subsequent teaching positions due to her sex and gender-based discrimination. In 1969 when Sandler inquired why she wasn't hired for numerous faculty positions she was well-qualified for, she was told by a male colleague: "Let's face it - you come on too strong for a woman.” These experiences made her turn to activism for women's rights. She became active with the Women's Equity Action League, an activist organization focused on the three E's: education, employment, and economic issues. Sandler is credited with realizing that President Lyndon Johnson's Executive Order 11246, which ensured equal employment opportunities for women, could be applied to sex discrimination issues in higher education. Sandler participated in WEAL's work in bringing 269 lawsuits against colleges and universities that were not compliant with this Executive Order. Around 1970, Dr. Sandler connected with US Representative Edith Green who was also working on women's rights and dismantling issues of sex discrimination in education. Their work helped forge the foundational ideas of what would become Title IX.
Duration: Approx. 1 min. 21 seconds
Representative Edith Starrett Green (back row, 3rd from left in photo below; her colleague Patsy Mink is 4th from left) was a firm champion of education and women's rights. It is humbling to read about her many impactful achievements and to grapple with the fact that today she is not as well-known as she should be. She has been called "the most powerful woman ever to serve in the Congress," and is responsible for initiating work in 1955 on equal pay for women and finally seeing this initial landmark legislation passed in 1963. Her tenacious work on numerous higher education and library support bills and legislation earned her nicknames such as the "Mother of Education." She was fiercely independent and unafraid to veer from party line; notably, her opposition to mandated school busing in favor of "local control" earned her unfavorable nicknames including "the liberal racist" and "the Nixon Democrat." (Yet Green also broke with many House colleagues who wanted to focus on women's issues rather than race in 1964, by stating during debate of the Civil Rights Act, "I think that I, as a white woman, have been discriminated against, yes -- but for every discrimination that I have suffered, the Negro woman has suffered ten times that amount of discrimination.")
Like Bernice Sandler, Edith Green also had first-hand experience with sex discrimination in higher education as she was discouraged from a career in electrical engineering because of her sex. She also had to withdraw from college for inability to afford college costs. Financial aid was often not as available to women as it was to men. In Congress, she channeled her significant energies into everything she did, and chaired the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Education where she tackled issues of sex discrimination in education. In 1970, her committee sponsored hearings to document sex discrimination faced by women in higher education. Her 1971 attempt at legislation banning sex discrimination in education was not yet successful. The Title IX idea would next be taken up by Green's colleague, Senator Birch Bayh. After Bayh successfully shepherded his 37 words and the Title IX idea through passage in the Senate, Edith Green again wrote the legislation for the House version, and successfully led its defense and passage through the House. After the Senate and House versions were rectified into one agreed upon version, Title IX was finally signed into law.
Congresswomen of the 89th Congress: (standing, from left) Florence Dwyer of New Jersey, Martha Griffiths of Michigan, Edith Green of Oregon, Patsy Mink of Hawaii, Leonor Sullivan of Missouri, Julia Hansen of Washington, Catherine May of Washington, Edna Kelly of New York, and Charlotte Reid of Illinois (seated, from left) Maurine Neuberger of Oregon, Frances Bolton of Ohio, and Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, ca. 1965-67. (National Archives Identifier 541939)
Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana is the author of the famed 37 words that became Title IX. His legislation was intended as one of several amendments to the existing Higher Education Act of 1965 and focused on banning sex discrimination in schools and all education programs that received federal funding. The idea of Title IX did not originate with Bayh but with U.S. Representative Edith Green, women's rights activist Dr. Bernice Sandler, and other women. Often called the father of Title IX, Bayh also stated that he was inspired in large part by the educational barriers faced by his brilliant spouse Marvella Hern Bayh, who had been denied entrance to the University of Virginia due to her sex. For Bayh's proposed bill to pass the Senate, considerable debate was needed, with Bayh eloquently defending the Title IX idea. Bayh's wording for what later became Title IX was passed by the Senate in early 1972. From there it would need to move to the House of Representatives for passage, ably led by Rep. Edith Green who wrote and successfully fought for the House legislation.
Duration: Approx. 1 min. 44 seconds
Like many other women champions of Title IX, Patsy Takemoto Mink faced barriers in education but far more than many of her peers. Her own experiences with sex discrimination were compounded by the severe racism she experienced as a Japanese American, and ongoing employment discrimination she faced as a married working woman with a child, and for her interracial marriage. Her resilience in the face of so many barriers and struggles is truly inspirational, and led her to a career in politics and eventually becoming elected to the US House of Representatives. She was the first woman of color elected to Congress, and here she became a colleague of Rep. Edith Green.
While Rep. Patsy Mink had a huge role in Title IX, it was not in the areas one might suppose. She did not write Title IX, as explained below. Her impactful leadership role with Title IX largely began after it had become law and powerful athletics programs and sports lobbies attempted to dismantle it. She and others took on the battle of defending Title IX against its critics; when Edith Green left Congress in 1974, Mink became one of the most visible House defenders of Title IX for many decades, keeping it from being weakened.
Today it is very common to encounter online sources that erroneously credit her as having written, co-authored, or being the major author or originator of Title IX, and she has been called the mother of Title IX, but this is not really accurate. Sen. Birch Bayh and Rep. Edith Green were the authors, and Rep. Mink was certainly invested and involved in securing the votes for the House passage of Title IX, as were many others including Rep. Shirley Chisholm. Mink's daughter Gwendolyn has written a biography of her mother (linked below), and describes her mom's role as a "principal legislative champion" of Title IX. Rep. Patsy Mink had a long and illustrious career in the US House of Representatives, and strongly defending Title IX for decades was an important part of her legacy; after her death in 2002, which was the 30th anniversary of Title IX, Congress honored her many contributions and officially renamed Title IX in her honor as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. It's not clear at what point facts became muddled, yet the renaming is a fitting honor in light of her resilience in the face of so much discrimination and her staunch dedication to Title IX and women's rights.
Duration: Approx. 20 min. 49 seconds
Billie Jean King is one of the best known tennis players in the world, renowned for her athletic talent and skills as much as for her advocacy for equality for women in sports, gender equality, women's and LGBTQ+ rights. One of her earliest experiences with discrimination against women and girls in sports occurred in 1955 when she was denied the opportunity to be included in a group photo with the rest of her tennis club, simply because she was wearing modest tennis shorts (that her own mother had made for her) instead of the skirt that girls were expected to wear. As she progressed in her sport, she became very aware of the gross pay inequities in sports prizes available to women versus men, and became an outspoken advocate for equal pay in sports for women. She participated in helping Title IX pass by campaigning and testifying to her own and other women's experiences with sex discrimination in sports. On Sept. 20,1973, she struck a decisive blow against the patriarchy by soundly defeating Bobby Riggs, a publicity-seeking retired pro tennis champion who challenged her while insulting women's tennis. The event and King's win drew international attention. In 1981, Billie Jean King was publicly outed for her lesbian identity and was advised to deny it. Instead, she began working publicly toward LGBTQ+ equal rights as well. She has founded numerous organizations to support and promote women's equality in sports, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights, including the well-known Women's Sports Foundation and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative among others, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Duration: Approx. 16 min. 04 seconds
Asked in June 2022 about Title IX's 50th anniversary, its successes and what needs more work, King stated:
"I think probably Title IX has helped suburban white girls the most. In the next 50 years, we really have to concentrate on getting more and more girls of color. We’ve got to make sure we take care of girls with disabilities... We have to help the LGBT community and especially trans athletes. I’m very big on inclusion, so I want everyone to have a chance to play, but I also want it to be fair. Some people tend to think they shouldn’t be allowed at all. I always worry about every person having a chance to play and compete. It’s not cut and dry. Those things are for the next 50 years, because it’s still about equality and equity."
Donna Lopiano was involved in baseball from a very early age. Her parents encouraged her, as evidenced by their highly unorthodox decision to give her a baseball glove as a Catholic First Communion gift. Despite her talent, one of her earliest experiences with sex discrimination occurred soon after when she was blocked from participating in her community's Little League when another parent protested girls could not be included because "the rulebook" prohibited girls from playing baseball. Nonetheless, she continued her sport and as a teenager joined a women's championship softball team, gaining much experience, titles, and numerous awards and championships. She became a college athletic director and later Director of Women's Athletics at University of Texas. Her direct connection with Title IX came in 1975 through her testifying to Congress against an act that sought to weaken Title IX and negatively impact equality for women in sports. She has advocated throughout her career for gender equity in sports and has leveraged her position to serve as a consultant to others on Title IX compliance. She served as Chief Executive Officer for the Women in Sports Foundation, founded by Billie Jean King, from 1991-2007 and is a past president of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Lopiano has become a well-known leader, author, and commentator on women on sports, directing athletic programs, and on gender equity in sports.
Duration: Approx. 3 min. 40 seconds
Benita Miller has served as a dedicated advocate for the rights of teen parents and teen mothers in foster care. The Title IX connection is the sex discrimination that has often occurred when pregnant teenagers and student mothers are deprived of continued access to education due to their sex and parenting status. Miller's personal family history well-acquainted her with the negative impact of education discrimination against young teenage girls, keeping them out of school due to pregnancy or their parenting status. She has worked in legal aid organizations and founded and served as the executive director of the Brooklyn Young Mother's Collective; she has also worked with other groups to advocate for and ensure the Title IX rights to education access for pregnant and teenage student parents. Her work with the Brooklyn Young Mother's Collective has been particularly important as a national model for schools and educators working with teen mothers, as she explains in the video below. Miller's work has helped shine a light on identifying student pregnancy as a Title IX issue not only in pre-collegiate contexts but also in higher education.
Duration: Approx. 2 min. 35 seconds
Educational researcher Myra Pollack Sadker was a pioneer of research on sex discrimination and gender bias in schools. She experienced sex discrimination herself while in college, as she lost out on a scholarship because it was determined a male student might need it more if he were to have a family someday. Sadker dedicated herself to research on the topic and co-authored Sexism in School and Society, the first teacher education textbook on sex discrimination in schools in 1973. Her husband David Sadker was also an educational researcher, and together they published the ground-breaking research study, Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls, documenting with data the sex discrimination and gender bias embedded in education practices from grade school through higher education. They published many books together and won numerous awards for their work on women in education.
In a tribute to his late wife published in 2000, David wrote of some of his own observations of sex discrimination against his Myra:
"When Myra and I co-authored articles and proposals, faculty and students would refer to our co-authored work as "David’s" article and "David’s" proposals. When Myra said: "But I wrote it too!" a faculty member responded, "Of course, when we say ‘David’, we mean ‘Myra’ too!" In class, a similar pattern developed as males dominated class discussion, (me included). Female voices, if not silent, were quieter, less frequent, less influential. As Myra took her turn as editor of the school newspaper... she wrote an editorial entitled "The Only Socially Acceptable Form of Discrimination." She discussed how it felt to be female, and invisible in a doctoral program. As chance (or was it fate?) would have it, that editorial was read by Lou Fischer, a professor who also edited a series of issues oriented books for Harper and Row. "Would you be interested in writing a book about what happens to girls in school?" he asked. And so it began.(For more, see "Myra and Me," linked below)
The five women above exposed and fought sexual harassment at Yale University through the groundbreaking legal case that is known as "Alexander v. Yale."
"Alexander v. Yale, 631 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1980), was the first use of Title IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972 in charges of sexual harassment against an educational institution. It further established that sexual harassment of female students could be considered sex discrimination, and was thus illegal." -Wikipedia
Duration: Approx. 3 min. 12 seconds
This online guide created by Susan Vega García & Anita Kay