Title IX: The Real Field of Dreams - Celebrating Progress, But Recognizing the Journey Ahead
Melanie Ross Levin
Director, Office of Women’s Advancement & Advocacy
State of Delaware
Today, on the 51st anniversary of the passage of Title IX, let's take a moment to reflect on the incredible progress we've made and the work that lies ahead. Title IX, the groundbreaking legislation that ensures equal access and treatment for girls and women in education, including sports, has paved the way for countless opportunities and empowered girls to dream big.
Remember that famous quote from Field of Dreams, "If they build it, they will come"? Well, Title IX is the real-life embodiment of that sentiment. When this legislation was established in 1972, it opened doors for girls to step onto the fields, courts, and tracks previously reserved for boys. And boy, did they come! According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, since the passage of Title IX, there has been tremendous growth in female sports participation. In recent decades, the number of girls participating in high school sports has increased more than tenfold.
So, let's celebrate Title IX and the progress it has brought us. Let's give a standing ovation to the girls who have fearlessly taken to the field, shattering stereotypes and inspiring future generations. But let's not forget that our mission isn't over. Despite the progress made, women's sports continue to face challenges. According to the Aspen Institute, only 1 in 3 girls between 6 and 12 participates in sports. And according to the National Association of State High School Associations, boys nationwide receive 1.3 million more sports opportunities than girls. As advocates, we need to keep pushing to ensure that every girl, regardless of her background or ability, has a fair shot at pursuing her sporting dreams.
To keep the promise of Title IX moving forward in Delaware, the Office of Women’s Advancement and Advocacy has worked hand in hand with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) over the last year to accomplish the following:
1. Released a comprehensive plan that outlines concrete steps our state can take to ensure Title IX education and compliance. Since the plan was released, DDOE has updated its website, which serves as a hub of information on Title IX in Delaware. Here, you can find valuable resources, including the contact details of Title IX Coordinators for every school district and charter school in the state. This website is a valuable tool for staying informed and connected within the Title IX community. DDOE has also surveyed all Title IX coordinators to find out what their interests are in terms of training and preferred format. This survey will help inform future educational materials and the delivery method of training.
2. Released an OP-ED that delves into the plan and the vision for fortifying Title IX in Delaware. The goal of the Op-Ed was to help ignite conversations and raise awareness about the importance of Title IX and its continued relevance.
3. Trained over 75 Delaware coaches, teachers, Title IX coordinators and advocates in the basics of Title IX athletics. And good news, these virtual webinar trainings are continuing with sessions on September 29, November 14 and February 22. Registration is free but space is limited.
So, what’s next?
We look forward to continuing to work with the DDOE on the remaining parts of the plan – specifically increasing knowledge of Title IX training and increased data collection and reporting to provide transparency.
A state effort to ensure timely, regular Title IX training for all relevant staff can help with the necessary guidance to comply with Title IX and promote gender equity. And by increasing data collection and reporting, Delaware is furthering its commitment to ensuring equity in athletics. By proactively identifying potential issues and allowing for a timelier resolution, DDOE and OWAA will work together in collaboration with the local education entities to support athletics.
As they say in sports, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And we are committed to keep pushing to make sure all Delaware girls and boys receive the benefits of sports opportunities.