Title IX: The Next Chapter

Mary Griffith | Jul 6, 2022


Last month, Americans celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This landmark legislation prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in education as well as in activities that receive federal funds, but is Title IX antiquated? If not, what’s next?

The short answer to the former (and, perhaps, easier) of the questions is, “No.” A recent Marist Poll, conducted with the Marist Center for Sports Communication, examined Americans’ attitudes about Title IX’s application to sports. According to the poll, more than six in ten think Title IX has had a positive impact on sports at the high school and collegiate levels and on opportunities for women and men in sports. (Though, men are more likely than women to see a positive effect on women’s sports.)  Millennials and Gen Z, those who have reaped Title IX’s benefits – and, perhaps, the future warriors for equality — are more likely than other generations to have an upbeat view of Title IX.

America’s youngest cohort are also more likely than older Americans to say more needs to be done. Fifty-one percent of Millennials and Gen Z think Title IX needs to be strengthened or more strictly enforced. Their sentiments are echoed by women (58%), especially women who are familiar with Title IX (65%), and Americans (48%), overall. In fact, only 12% of Americans say Title IX is no longer necessary.

So, what is the future of Title IX? The answer may lie in the debate over transgender rights. On the legislation’s fiftieth anniversary, the United States Department of Education released proposed changes to Title IX for public review. According to the press release put forth by the Department, these changes would “protect LGBTQI+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.” However, the statement goes on to say that a separate process will be undertaken to determine how Title IX applies to sports.

Advocates for transgender equality in sports may face an arduous fight. Sixty-one percent of Americans do not think transgender athletes should be allowed to compete on teams that match their current gender identity. Democrats (56%), Millennials and Gen Z (37%), and women (34%), especially women who have heard of Title IX (42%), are more accepting of this proposal, though, and may well be on the frontlines of the fight for transgender equality.

If past polls are any indication, the debate over transgender rights will persist. Take for example, Americans’ views on same-sex marriage, asked by Gallup. The proportion of Americans who think same-sex marriage should be valid under the law has consistently exceeded those who oppose it since 2012, three years before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges and 16 years after the question was first asked.

It will take time to see where public opinion settles on transgender rights and whether those rights are the next phase of Title IX. But, the data indicates that Americans consider Title IX as necessary, especially among the nation’s emerging leaders.

Mary Griffith is the Associate Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.














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