Henry: Title IX should educate more on sex-based discrimination

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Collegian | Dylan Tusinski

Brendan Henry, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 offers governmentally regulated protection from sex-based discrimination in schools and programs that are provided with federal financial assistance. It covers both educational and athletic activities, and you are more likely to hear about it when speaking of athletics.

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According to the U.S. Department of Education, Title IX impacts “approximately 17,600 local school districts, over 5,000 postsecondary institutions and charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries and museums.”

This amendment is an interesting one simply because it addressed an issue of its time. The ’60s and ’70s saw a shift in gender roles: Women were becoming more empowered, and at that point, it became fitting to make sure women were given the same opportunities as men in the spheres of education and activities. 

Title IX has undoubtedly helped equalize the playing field for genders in schools, but are government regulation and policy always effective at eliminating discrimination? Of course not. 

Sexual violence in schools is currently on the rise, an issue that Title IX attempts to prevent. Some of this stems from ignorance of Title IX protections; students do not know where to go or how to report instances of sexual violence or discrimination. There are also schools that are too conservative on what they consider an issue, and this leaves students who need help helpless. 

One governmental action can help in certain areas but often falls flat in others. If we examine the slow process of desegregation in the United States, we can see that although the legality of segregation changed, the precedent did not. Amendments made by the government can make certain things illegal or can set a goal for equality, but they cannot change ideology. 

“The government should mandate education on the topic of gender discrimination rather than trying to rely on a dated catch-all amendment.”

So if the government cannot just sign a piece of paper with a nice little message above it to rid the country of its problems, what exactly can it do?

Educate, educate, educate. If values of equality and an absence of prejudice are instilled in children now, these children will pass down their values to their children. We would likely see a downward trend in sexual violence and discrimination in schools instead of an increase if there was a heightened focus on these topics in the education system.

The government can sign an attempted catch-all amendment — or they could actually mandate education on the topic in an attempt to completely eradicate it. 

Growing up, your parents likely told you when something you were doing was wrong. There were probably times when you continued to do whatever it was they tried to stop you from doing because you did not know why it was wrong. If your parents explained to you why it was wrong the first time, you probably would have stopped because you understood their reasoning.

The government should mandate education on the topic of gender discrimination rather than trying to rely on a dated catch-all amendment. While the amendment works on a surface level — like equality in sports — it does not do much to change harmful ideology. Ideology starts in the home, but ideology in the home starts with education.

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Reach Brendan Henry at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrendanHenryRMC.