As the nation marks the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) is bringing together girls, champion athletes, advocates, and leaders to commemorate the milestone and the impact and importance of the landmark law. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), WSF is hosting a sports and STEM field day today for Washington D.C. and Baltimore-area youth, and tomorrow will conduct a Title IX briefing and discussion on Capitol Hill in collaboration with the Democratic Women’s Caucus. These events are the latest in a series of WSF initiatives in this milestone year to draw attention to Title IX and the need for its continued enforcement and protection to help create a more equitable and equal society.
Considered the preeminent legislation that helped pave the way for girls and women’s participation in sport, Title IX has ushered in great progress over five decades. However, there is still much more work to be done to fulfill the promise of the law. A recently released WSF research report, ’50 Years of Title IX: We’re Not Done Yet’ revealed that girls’ participation in high school sports is nearly 12x higher than it was in 1972, yet girls today still have less participation opportunities to play sports than boys did 50 years ago. More than 3.6 million high school boys participated in sports in 1972 compared to 3.4 million girls today, a number that falls one million short of the current 4.5 million sport opportunities for high school boys. The opportunity gap is widest among girls and women of color, those with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community. The need for education, transparency and action is evident and critical to achieve true equity in sports and beyond.
“It’s great to see everyone celebrating this essential legislation and the progress made over the last 50 years, yet we cannot take Title IX for granted,” said Danette Leighton, WSF CEO. “As transformational as the law has been, the full promise of Title IX has not yet been met for many girls and women across our nation; we still have work to do. It’s vital for everyone – especially younger generations – to understand their rights to equal access and opportunity. That’s at the heart of this important law, which needs to be fully enforced and protected to reach equity.”
Today’s ‘Title IX 50th Anniversary Field Day’ is designed for girls (ages 8 – 14 years old) to get active, try new sports, hear from champion athletes and leaders, and learn how Title IX impacts their lives. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Leighton will welcome the girls who will have an opportunity to play multiple sports including basketball, soccer, and track & field, and to participate in an interactive STEM activation. Joining the girls in play, as well as leading the girls in an educational conversation, will be WSF Athlete Ambassadors including the Foundation’s President and three-time Olympic ice hockey medalist Meghan Duggan, 29-time Paralympic swimming medalist Jessica Long, and the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history, bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten will also join the athletes in the panel conversation. The Field Day is designed to inspire, educate and empower young athletes of today to advocate for a fully realized Title IX and the access and opportunities the law can and should provide.
Tomorrow, WSF will be leading a Capitol Hill Briefing and Discussion on Title IX for legislators, policy makers and advocates, in collaboration with the Democratic Women’s Caucus. Moderated by WSF, the panel will include Duggan, Long, Taylor and Neena Chaudhry, General Counsel and Senior Advisor for Education of the National Women’s Law Center. The group will discuss the law’s victories as well as unfulfilled promises, how Title IX has impacted their lives, and policy and practice recommendations to change the landscape for the next 50 years and beyond. The event will be livestreamed on the WSF YouTube Channel.
“As a collegiate student-athlete, I know first-hand the power of Title IX – I benefitted greatly from it,” said Meghan Duggan, three-time Olympic medalist with the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team and WSF president. “The opportunity to play, challenge myself, master new skills and excel, created a powerful foundation for my career both on and off the ice. I want every girl to have that same opportunity to unlock her own possibilities. Ensuring Title IX stays strong is important for everyone.”