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Title IX rears its head again as the women’s basketball players shamed the NCAA by showing pictures of the lame weight room (if you can call it that) provided to the female athletes.

Compare the rack of light dumbbells given to the women with the extensive and sophisticated weight room that was set up for the men and all the ugliness and inequity that has tracked Title IX bubbles back to the surface.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Ali Kershner, MS, CSCS (@kershner.ali)

When confronted with the weight room disparity, the NCAA humbled around and have now provided the women with a curtained off, larger room with some equipment. That’s good, but Title IX has been the law of the land since 1972 and still the inequality exists.

When I started 6th Grade, it was legal for a public university to accept only men into law school; it was legal for a nursing program to dismiss women who became pregnant; it was legal to offer 100 men athletic scholarships while offering none to women regardless of the number of women enrolled.

It may seem almost incomprehensible in 2021, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past when discrimination in education programs and activities was legally permitted and tolerated.

That all changed with the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX banned all forms of gender-based discrimination and even prohibited retaliation against anyone filing a complaint alleging discrimination in academic or employment opportunities.

Schools quickly opened academic programs to women, with the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) being a notable exception until Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg got ahold of them.

The fight to keep Title IX from being fully implemented goes on particularly in schools with large athletic programs. I find there is much misunderstanding about Title IX in athletics.

The Department of Education’s regulations require a school to match the number of athletic participation opportunities with its enrollment.

For example, a school with 50-50 split in male-female enrollment should have the same or similar split with the school’s number of athletic opportunities. This is easy to achieve when you have men’s basketball and baseball and women’s basketball and softball.

Then enter men’s football with its ginormous 100-man roster and schools struggle to add women’s sports to compensate.

On its face, Title IX was a game changer.

Title IX Has Made A Big Difference, But…

The implementation of Title IX has a complicated and erratic 49-year history. Suffice to say law schools, nursing schools and academic programs opened their arms wide to accept women; athletic programs not so much.

Athletic departments have fought Title IX every step of the way. Over the years, lawsuits and complaints filed with the US Department of Education resulted in many gains. The fight continues with the number of Title IX complaints increased ten-fold from 2010 to 2020.

At the same time, Title IX complaints have addressed more subtle, complex issues, which take longer to be investigated and resolved. Of course, athletics is not the only topic of the complaints as sexual harassment is another hot topic within Title IX.

The Advantage Of Mediation In Title IX Complaints

Mediation of Title IX complaints can move the parties to a faster and more satisfactory resolution.   When the student participates in crafting the mediated resolution, the student is more likely to remain enrolled rather than sever all ties with the institution.

The school can also address issues broader or narrower than the specific issues alleged in the complaint.

The Keys To A Successful Title IX Mediation

A skilled, experienced mediator understands the issues and has training in de-escalation to “calm the waters” and make it possible for both sides to work together to reach a successful resolution of the complaint.

I spent over a dozen years as in-house counsel with a large public university. I chaired a Title IX program-wide assessment team which investigated and made recommendations which were then implemented.

Certainly, the mediator’s skillset goes well beyond knowledge of the law and educational setting: A successful mediator is effectively part psychologist or counselor and is capable of seeing issues from all angles.

Experience matters, and training is essential.

Consider Offering Title IX Mediation

The parties may not think mediation is a possibility in a Title IX dispute, but now it is, and it is often the best solution. Consider offering to mediate your dispute and be open to when and what issues will be discussed.

KIM L. KIRN is an experienced, highly trained mediator with a track record of success and a thorough knowledge of mediation processes as well as Title IX complaints. Find out more by contacting KIM L. KIRN today.