Wednesday, March 30, 2005

We Built It, They Came

Good news for supporters of Title IX, the 1972 legislation barring sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funds. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday in favor of a high school coach who said he was fired after complaining of unequal treatment for his girls' basketball team. The coach wants to sue the school under Title IX, and the Court ruled 5-4 that he could do this. I have to caveat this entry by saying that I can't claim to fully understand the LEGAL issues in this case -- which, after all, should be the important ones, not the resulting POLICY outcome. Nevertheless, I was pleased to hear the Court's decision, from the policy point of view.

Title IX is primarily known as the law that helped spur the tremendous increase in girls' participation in school sports over the last 30 years. Of course, this coincided with the overall transformation of women's roles in American society; still, Title IX strikes me as one of the best rebukes for conservatives who claim that Big Government never solves anything. (Yes, there are still some who say that...) Basically, Congress said, gee it would be good to eliminate the sex disparities in school activities like sports, and then, poof, made it happen. And for the most part this has been viewed as a positive development.

Not with certain Republicans in Congress and the White House though. There have been hints that the Bush Administration and some in Congress would try to weaken Title IX. Why? Because Republicans oppose such government initiatives on the grounds that they're ineffective, of course. Oh, no, wait, Title IX has been enormously effective. Well, then, because Republicans oppose heavy-handed government attempts to legislate local and state activities, right? Oh, no, wait, that's so old-school Republican. Hmm, then, could it be, that these Republicans are just not terribly committed to ending sex discrimination, and are just a little bit retro in their view of the value and importance of girls' sports, especially in comparison to boys' sports?

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