NPR logo Obama Returns Title IX Gender Law To Pre-Bush Standard

Obama Returns Title IX Gender Law To Pre-Bush Standard

The Obama Administration is reversing a controversial Bush Administration Title IX rule that critics said put the onus on women students show interest in sports instead of on schools to prove that they offered sports opportunities to men and women on an equal basis.

From an Education Department press release:

Washington, D.C. — Today, Vice President Biden announced that the Administration has issued a 'Dear Colleague' letter that withdraws a 2005 interpretation of Title IX policy. Enacted in 1972, Title IX mandates that any educational institution receiving federal funding for programs and activities cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. The 2005 policy issued compliance standards that were widely criticized for being inadequate and inconsistent with Title IX's nondiscrimination goals. Today's announcement reverses this interpretation, and returns to a more thorough test for assessing compliance with Title IX. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, joined the Vice President at George Washington University for this announcement.

"Making Title IX as strong as possible is a no-brainer," said Vice President Biden. "What we're doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics, and allow women to realize their potential - so this nation can realize its potential."

"There is no doubt that Title IX has dramatically increased athletic, academic, and employment opportunities for women and girls, and educational institutions have made big strides in providing equal opportunities in sports," said Secretary Duncan. "Yet discrimination continues to exist in college athletic programs—and we should be vigilant in enforcing the law and protecting this important civil right.


The Bush Administration had made it much easier for colleges and universities to show compliance with Title IX. The Bush Education Department said schools could simply use and e-mail survey to gauge the interest or athletic ability of female students.

Critics panned such surveys, saying they often didn't accurately depict the true levels of interest at schools.

The previous method, the one which the Obama Administration is returning to, required a more affirmative response from schools. They would need to use several different methods to demonstrate their commitment to Title IX.

For instance, schools would need to demonstrate that the participation of women in athletics was proportionate to their numbers on campus. Schools would also need to demonstrate how they were increasing opportunities for women.