Pelosi Recognizes the 33rd Anniversary of Title IX and the Opportunities Provided to Young Girls
Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined House and Senate Democrats, athletes, and women's groups today at a news conference to honor the 33rd anniversary of Title IX. In addition, Pelosi, Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and 140 other House Democrats sent a letter to President Bush to share their concern with recent efforts to weaken Title IX. Below are Pelosi's remarks and the text of the letter to Bush:
"I am so pleased to be joined by so many of my colleagues who work so hard to protect Title IX, and by Dominique Dawes and Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, two superb athletes and amazing role models for girls across our country and in this room. All these girls, these young athletes, who are here with us today inspire us all.
"As we honor this 33rd anniversary of Title IX, we also remember the champion who made it possible, former Congresswoman Patsy Mink of Hawaii, who died two years ago. As a member of the Education Committee in 1972, Patsy helped craft Title IX and worked tirelessly for its passage. The day that it came to the floor, she was called away because her daughter had been in an automobile accident. She knew the vote would be close - and in fact the bill lost by one vote. But Patsy, through sheer force of will, encouraged then-Speaker Carl Albert to do the unheard of - to bring the bill up on the floor again. That time it passed. Thanks to Patsy, all these young women have the chance to participate, to play and to dream.
"As a mother of four adult daughters, I have personally seen the dramatic results of Title IX. Some are visible, such as the growing number of girls on soccer fields and basketball courts. Equally significant is the message that Title IX sends to girls: your education is crucial and your future is limitless.
"For 33 years, Title IX has taken down the "No Girls Allowed" signs from our schools' playing fields, shop classes, and career counseling centers. It has ensured that the full range of educational opportunity is available to all of our children. And today, because of Title IX, the equality we have demanded on the field of play and in the classroom is allowing women to succeed in the halls of power, and corporate boardrooms.
"Title IX has done so much to help women move forward, and that it why it is so alarming to see the Bush Administration now attempting to roll it back.
"Recently, the Bush Administration issued a new "Clarification" on Title IX, which allows schools to rely solely on the results of a single survey, which can be administered through e-mail, to gauge women's interest in athletics and demonstrate compliance with Title IX. Experts have released a report that outlines how this "Clarification" creates a major loophole and lowers the standard for Title IX compliance, jeopardizing the number of athletic opportunities available to women and girls in schools across the country.
"I am proud to announce that 140 of my colleagues have joined Representatives George Miller, Lynn Woolsey, and me today in writing to President Bush asking that this "Clarification" be withdrawn.
"Today, as we mark the anniversary of this landmark law, let us also recommit ourselves to making sure that Title IX continues to open the doors of opportunity for today's young women, and those for generations to come."
June 22, 2005
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On March 17, 2005, the Department of Education revised its policy on Title IX issuing the "Additional Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy: Three-Part Test - Part Three," allowing schools to rely solely on the results of a single survey, which can be administered through e-mail, to gauge women's interest in athletics and demonstrate compliance with Title IX. We are concerned that this "Clarification" significantly weakens Title IX and threatens the 33-year old law's remarkable success in opening doors for women and girls across the country. We respectfully request that you immediately withdraw this Clarification.
We strongly believe that use of a survey alone, let alone an e-mail survey, cannot accurately determine student athletic interest or ability. By allowing schools to rely exclusively on a survey, the Clarification creates a major loophole and lowers the standard for Title IX compliance, jeopardizing the number of athletic opportunities available to women and girls in schools across the country. While the Department's previous policies allowed the use of surveys in determining compliance, schools also had to look at other factors, such as input from coaches and administrators and interest in the surrounding schools and community sports leagues, which together provide a more comprehensive and accurate reflection of student interest. Under the new Clarification, the Department will allow schools to simply interpret a lack of response to the survey as evidence of lack of interest.
This harmful change, issued without public notice or opportunity for public comment, appears to be the latest in a series of deliberate attempts by your Administration to weaken Title IX.
On June 27, 2002, former Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced the establishment of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics to "examine ways of strengthening enforcement and expanding opportunities to ensure fairness for all college athletes." This Commission made a series of negative recommendations that would have threatened Title IX, and retreated after meeting significant public opposition.
For 33 years, Title IX has taken down the No Girls Allowed' signs from school playing fields, shop classes, and career counseling centers. Since it was enacted in 1972, young women's participation in athletics has increased 400 percent at the college level and 800 percent in high schools. Athletic opportunities have not only helped women and girls excel physically and academically but have also helped them avoid risky behaviors such as drug use and teenage pregnancy and have increased their self-esteem and confidence. Female athletes have worked tirelessly over the years to gain respect and equality, and because of their efforts, generations of young women will have an equal opportunity to succeed.
We urge you to direct the Department of Education to withdraw this new Clarification. Our nation's women and girls deserve no less.
Thank you for your consideration.
140 Other House Democrats