By Katy Ryan
Title IX (9) is a law that requires gender equality in everything that has to do with government-funded education. The federal law has been fighting for an even-playing ground since 1972 when it was enacted.
Health teacher Michele Burnett felt the effects of Title IX firsthand when she attended Prospect from 1984 to 1988.
When Burnett was a student here, 12 years had passed since Title IX was put into place, and the law had begun to achieve equality for girls’ sports.
“I took every advantage of being an athlete,” Burnett said. “There wasn’t a time where I wasn’t participating in something.”
Burnett was a part of track and the Rhythmettes (now color guard) for three years and was a cheerleader for a year as well.
Since Burnett’s graduation, Title IX has continued to contribute opportunities for girls who want to play sports. Prospect has added girls’ water polo, girls’ soccer teams and lower levels (like JV and Frosh/Soph) to the badminton, bowling and tennis teams so more people can participate.
The opportunity for girls to participate in high school sports today is no doubt greater than it was 40 years ago, before Title IX was put into place. According to Prospect’s Title IX representative Daria Schaffeld, Title IX still relevant today, even though it has already given girls equality in competitive sports.
Schaffeld is the person you should contact if you have any grievances regarding Title IX. She meets with a District D214 Title IX committee to discuss any problems that both teachers and students feel they have with regards to the law.
“A lot of times when people think of Title IX, they think of making sure that the female high school athlete is given opportunities,” Schaffeld said. “That’s certainly the origin of the title, but our committee is looking to go beyond the formal Title IX law [by] making sure that not only do females have an opportunity to participate, but the coaches are given the facilities that are equitable, that women are hired to coach women as often as possible [and] that women are put into leadership positions.”
According to Schaffeld, something the committee is aiming for is having good female role models as teachers.
“[Title IX is] also about making sure that there is female leadership in the building, that there’s strong role models for girls. I’m not saying that men can’t be strong role models, but it’s also important that young adolescent girls can also see strong females as coaches and administrators and assistant coaches.”
Last year the committee met four times to discuss different issues that people felt were violating Title IX. The teachers association addressed the complaints and feel that they have been fixed in this year’s contract. The committee plans to meet once a semester from now on.
“I think that a lot of the work has been done but there’s always room for growth,” Schaffeld said. “There’s always room for improvement.”