This article originally appeared in the July 16, 1978 edition of the Lewiston Morning Tribune.
The era of equality in girls’ education has dawned.
Light emanates from the East, Washington, DC, the birthplace of Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972. This law prohibits discrimination based on gender in all schools receiving federal funding. This covers virtually all schools.
Faced with the unpleasant prospect of having their money confiscated by the government, most of the country’s school districts, colleges and universities are drawing the line. At least on paper, their policies and practices are non-discriminatory.
In Lewiston and Clarkston, school district officials radiate confidence that they are in full compliance with the law.
The deadline for conformance is next Friday.
“If there’s one effect Title IX has had on school districts,” says Lewiston assistant superintendent Glenn D. Morgan. Identify what you may have overlooked. ”
Clarkston School District Superintendent Harold O. Beggs said:
Much of the preparatory work on Title IX in the Two Valleys was done well before this week’s deadline approached.
The rules and guidelines interpreting Title IX were issued in 1975 by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Elementary schools may be less overtly discriminatory in their program offerings, but just two years ago they had to be compliant. Universities and high schools have been given to change operations until this month.
Initially, both districts took similar steps to implement federal law.
Morgan and Beggs were appointed Title IX coordinators for their respective districts.
A policy and complaints procedure has been adopted to address potential violations and complaints.
An advisory board has been appointed to oversee the program and procedures. An internal evaluation was conducted to explore the customs and traditions of sexism.
Because the Title IX ban on sex discrimination goes hand in hand with the Equal Opportunity Act against race, religion, or age discrimination, Morgan says the Lewiston Advisory Board also monitors these violations. .
“We looked for anything that discriminated against any of these standards and set procedures to fix it,” Morgan says. We are not proposing any goals or timetables.
According to Beggs, the Clarkston Advisory Board is made up of a large number of school district teachers and is designed to spot violations before they become serious problems. “We want to avoid complaints.”
Beggs, for example, cites members of the committee who found a course offering called “Girls’ Chorus.” By order of Title IX there can be no such course. Reference removed.
Of course, Beggs adds sarcastically. “You can set standards for vocal range, but not for gender.”
Beggs concedes that unless young people enjoy singing falsetto constantly, the director may end up with a de facto girl chorus. But you can’t call it that.
Other courses can be a roadblock for the school district. Shop courses such as auto mechanics and welding are mostly men only. Women have dominated sewing and home economics. Also, the federal reporting form requires the district to report more than 80% of her class of a given gender and why. Morgan says personal or family traditions may mean the continuation of these class imbalances. Many students may simply prefer courses in these gender stereotypes. However, he adds that it is the district’s responsibility to ensure that the makeup of these classes is strictly a result of student choice.
“School alone can’t change all of this,” says Morgan. “Our role is to prevent that from happening.”
The school district, through its counselors, tells the girls that they can be auto mechanics and the boys that they can sew. Morgan adds that a new district program on career opportunity recognition this fall will help.
Home economics as a woman’s domain is coming to an end, says Beggs. Men used to have a men’s complement of courses called ‘bachelor’s courses’, but that is now also illegal.
“So I think the popular name now is ‘Single Survival,'” Beggs jokes.
Title IX’s rules cover two broad categories: job applications, interviews, salaries, promotions, terminations, personnel policies such as “offering services,” or anything else included in an institution or school district.
The Lewiston district approved employee job descriptions last week. Also, potential employees are no longer asked about their marital status or dependents. In considering applicants for Grantham’s elementary school principal, Clarkston paid attention not only to Title IX, but also to other equal opportunity and affirmative guidelines for his actions. According to Beggs, the one she chose was Colleen Hill, the first female principal in a while.
“Let me quickly point out that Colleen was hired not only because she was a woman, but because she was the best candidate,” he says.
The biggest ruckus caused by Title IX, however, is school athletics.
“Course offerings may not be segregated by gender,” states a federal rule. “However, grouping of abilities by individual performance in physical education is permissible, as is gender segregation in body contact sports.”
Equal opportunities in sports for men and women are required as judged by student interests, facilities, equipment arrangements, game and practice schedules, travel allowances and coaching, and salaries. “Failure to provide required funding to teams of one gender may be considered a violation,” the rule states. “However, equal funding is not required.”
Morgan speculates that the injection of funds into women’s athletics in the Lewiston area may have actually led to an imbalance in favor of female athletes.
He said it is difficult to establish comparative costs between men’s and women’s sports, as gymnasium heating costs, lighting costs, administration costs, etc. cover both programs.
“I think we’re in pretty good shape in terms of activity,” Morgan says.
He winces at the mention of an Ohio court decision that allowed girls to play on high school football teams. “That wasn’t the original intention,” he said.
Beggs said most of the changes at Clarkston have been extracurricular activities, with expanded sporting opportunities and expanded practice schedules for women.
Many Clarkston patrons objected to coeducation in gym classes, Beggs recalled.
“Also, some students will prefer segregated classes. But we cannot offer courses specifically for boys or girls.”
Both the Lewiston and Clarkston neighborhoods offer combined exercise classes for elementary school boys and girls. The first segregation is middle school, with contact sports such as soccer and basketball.
Morgan admits that Title IX has brought some surprising changes to the education system here at times. “I think in many ways the girls were discriminated against as if they were blacked out.”
But as federal documents ask more specific questions about compliance and demand evidence, Morgan believes the effort and cost of complying will skyrocket.