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New Bill Offered to Strengthen Title IX in High Schools

Last week, at a reception to honor female Olympic athletes, members of Congress gathered to celebrate the offering of a new bill to strengthen Title IX. The High School Athletics Accountability Act (HR 4994) will require high schools to report the number of female and male athletes participating at their school, as well as the amount of expenditures spent by the schools for each sport. Armed with this information, the Department of Education will be better equipped to assess equality in sports for females at the high school level and take action when disparities emerge. The bill was introduced by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Hilda Solis (D-CA) and Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL). A similar bill has been offered in the Senate by Senator Snowe (R-ME).

According to the American Association of University Women, the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act of 1994, which requires reporting of athletic participation and finances by colleges and universities, was responsible in large part “for the narrowing of the athletics gap at the college level…While women’s athletics continue to lag behind men both in opportunities to participate and in dollars spent, women’s athletic participation has increased by 403% since 1971, proving that interest follows opportunity.” HR 4994 will likely have the same positive effect for female participation in high school sports.

Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain of the US women’s soccer team were present at the reception, held by the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues and the Women & Politics Institute. Congresswoman Brown-Waite (R-FL), Biggert (R-IL), Lofgren (D-CA) and others used this reception to discuss both the merits of the bill and their appreciation to the US female Olympians for serving as role models to today’s new generation of athletes. They stressed the importance of female participation in high school sports as a mechanism to increase self-esteem, improve body images, and decrease the chances for teenage depression and obesity. Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) also spoke about the important role Title IX has played in forging healthy relationships between fathers and daughters through sport.

Foudy and Chastain echoed the previous sentiments about the importance of establishing equity in sports. They stressed the significance of Title IX in shaping their careers and providing future generations with the same opportunities. Julie Foudy has previously served as the president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and was a member of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, appointed by the U.S. Department of Education to examine Title IX. Foudy and the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues look forward to seeing this bill passed into law, strengthening Title IX and its protection of female equity in sports.

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Media Resources: American Association of University Women

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