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Let's not gloss over Title IX's faults

Common sense reform could restore the original intent of the law and do away with gender quotas.

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Title IX has done wonders for women by opening school athletics to them throughout the nation. And as the landmark gender discrimination legislation turns 36 this week, it might be tempting to use the occasion to laud those wonders. But we need to move beyond praise and address the unintended negative consequences the legislation has had on men and on gender equality in general – without erasing the gains women have won.

The problem lies not with the statute itself, but rather its enforcement.

When Title IX was being debated in Congress at its inception, several sponsors assured their fellow members that the bill would not be used to promote gender quotas. Sen. Birch Bayh said that such quotas were "exactly what this amendment intends to prohibit." Quotas might not have been intended for the original law, but, in effect, were later added by government bureaucrats.

The original law simply states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Title IX rightly outlaws discrimination in educational programs. And its language does not require enforcing strict gender quotas in athletics. But that's just what's happening and it's a practice that threatens math and science programs, and attacks voluntary, single-sex education programs.

So, how did we get here? The scope of Title IX has expanded dramatically through a combination of court cases and government policy interpretations (mostly through the US Department of Education).

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