The Stateswoman Archive

Title IX Report Released:  Minority Report Challenges Process

Passed by Congress as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX provides that “[N]o 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.”

President Bush’s Commission on Opportunities in Athletics released its report on Title IX to the Department of Education, “Open to All: Title IX at 30” on February 26, 2003.

The commission’s co-chairs, Ted Leland, athletic director at Stanford University, and Cynthia Cooper, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, stated in part, “We are very proud to have served Secretary Paige and believe our report reflects the broad consensus for modest changes that will make the law work better for all athletes, men and women. “Without a doubt, Title IX has been a great American success story. Millions of young women know countless opportunities—athletic and otherwise—because of this sweeping civil rights law. But with respect to athletics, some have claimed the law has increased opportunities for women at the expense of men. And some college administrators express confusion and dismay at what the law requires of them….

“After months of deliberation, it’s clear to us that Title IX enforcement needs reform in order to make the law more clear, fair, enforceable and truly open to all, while maintaining the extraordinary progress set in motion by Title IX.”

Two of the Commissioners, Julie Foudy, captain of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team, and Donna de Varona, an Olympic gold medalist, refused to sign the Commission’s report. Instead they released a Minority Report challenging the process, findings, recommendations, and conclusions of the Commission’s Majority Report.

The Executive Summary of the Minority Report opens:
“We are today releasing a Minority Report to fully set forth our views on the issues posed by the Secretary of Education to the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics. We are compelled to issue this Report because we were not allowed to include within the Commission’s own report a full discussion of the issues and our position on the recommendations that have been adopted. Our concerns are the following:

  • The findings and recommendations of the Commission’s report fail to address key issues or to reflect an understanding of the discrimination women and girls still face in obtaining equal opportunity in athletics.
  • Many of the recommendations approved by the Commission would seriously weaken Title IX’s protections and substantially reduce the opportunities to which women and girls are entitled under current law.
  • The omissions and weaknesses of the Commission’s report are the result of a process that did not adequately focus on critical issues, did not compile evidence necessary to address the state of gender equity in our nation’s schools, and did not allow sufficient time for Commissioners to review the record or provide sufficient information for them to assess the impact of their recommendations.”

The Feminist Majority Foundation reports, “In a surprise announcement yesterday, Secretary of Education Ronald Paige, who refused to include the Minority Report in the official Majority Report, stated that he would only act on those recommendations in the Majority Report that received unanimous approval. However, as the Minority Report notes, some of the proposals that passed unanimously were not fully discussed, and upon further review, could have significant detrimental effects on participation opportunities for women and girls. For example, one recommendation suggests that the Department of Education consider on its own other ways of showing Title IX compliance. This enormous loophole could be used to introduce all of the recommendations that the Secretary claims he will not consider.” [2/27/03, www.feminist.org/news/newsbyte/uswirestory.asp?id=7564].

This article first appeared in the Wisconsin’s Women’s Network newsletter, The Stateswoman, in March 2003