The ACLU’s Way With Words

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff members are hosting a special blog series this week celebrating Title IX. So far, the posts have predictably showered the law with one-sided praise for strengthening “legal efforts” to achieve “gender equity” and creating “educational equality.” Tweets and retweets of the series have simply repeated all of the warm and fuzzy statements on Title IX. Yet all of these ACLU posts and related social media hits ignore any and all distortions, cut opportunities and the rest of the unintended consequences its implementation has caused.

But what else could we except from an organization that has helped perpetuate an expansive, money-making (or money-draining depending on what side you’re on) litigious Title IX environment and promote the notion that people still consider girls’ sports “second class”?

Yesterday’s feature, “Evening the Field: Title IX’s Continuing Impact on Gender Equality in Sports,” leaves out many important facts that would help balance the skewed perspective. The following points deserve attention:

  • Complaints filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in twelve school districts nationwide by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) are cited as solid evidence that “Title IX’s requirement for gender equality in school athletics continues to be blatantly ignored.” However, just because accusations were made does not by any means verify inequalities. As the American Sports Council has previously stated, the NWLC plan is clearly designed to expand the enforcement of gender quotas in high school sports. We should be getting rid of, not increasing, gender quotas because they cause the elimination of men’s teams and discrimination based on gender. The complaint filed in New York City is already seriously damaging school athletics. The NYC Department of Education just announced that new schools will not be allowed to provide any teams for boys; only girls will be allowed to play sports. Let’s hope that our lawsuit, filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation, will knock down the practice of using gender quotas in high schools.
  • Readers are again reminded that “individual students have the right to go to court to enforce their right to equal treatment.” They use the case against Quinnipiac University as a success story. However, not everyone agrees. Quinnipiac cut 2 men’s teams — golf and track — to make their athletic program more proportional and even less male-friendly. As the Boston Globe reported, the school has 7 men’s teams and 14 girls teams. Where was the ACLU when those boys were discriminated against because of their gender and offered half as many teams? Second, schools, not the courts, should rule whether competitive cheer is a sport. Varsity status for cheerleading should take into account safety (it’s highly dangerous) and interest (it’s one of the fastest growing sports).
  • While extolling the benefits of sports competition for girls, the author claims that Title IX prevents girls from being “treated as second-class citizens and relegated to the sidelines (or the mud-bath fields).” First off, athletic competition is a positive activity for both girls and boys. Second, to infer that girls are barred from sports in this day and age is not based in any sort of reality; no one is trying to prevent them from playing. Rhetoric does not belong in discussions on Title IX. What is more, using NCAA data, the American Sports Council in 2009 found there are more scholarships available for women (32,656) than for men (20,206) in gender symmetric, Division I sports.

The post clinches with, “It is imperative that we continue to fight to see the goals of Title IX fully realized as we celebrate its 40th anniversary.” This advice is misguided. Instead, the sentence should read, “It is imperative that we continue to look for reforms that curtail the unintended consequences of the law’s implementation to see the goal of Title IX — preventing discrimination on the basis of gender — fully realized as we celebrate its 40th anniversary.”

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