June 23, 1972
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is enacted by Congress and is signed into law by President Richard Nixon, prohibiting sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid.1 Rep. Patsy Mink is recognized as the major author and sponsor of the bill, and Rep. Edith Green and Sen. Birch Bayh also made significant contributions.
May 20, 1974
Sen. John Tower proposes the “Tower Amendment,” which would exempt revenue-producing sports from determinations of Title IX compliance. The amendment is rejected.2
In the spirit of Sen. Tower’s failed amendment, Sen. Jacob Javits submits an amendment directing the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to issue regulations that provide for “reasonable provisions considering the nature of particular sports.”2 It argues that event and uniform expenditures on sports with larger crowds or more expensive equipment do not have to be matched in sports without similar needs.
May 27, 1975
President Gerald Ford signs the final version of Title IX—which includes Sen. Javits’ proposed athletics regulations from July 20, 1974—and submits it for congressional review.3
July 8, 1975
Rep. James O’Hara introduces “a bill to amend Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972” (H.R. 8394), which proposes that sports revenues first be used to offset the cost of that sport, and only then to support other sports. The proposed change would effectively alter Title IX’s coverage in athletics. This bill dies in committee before reaching the House floor.4
July 21, 1975
Congress reviews and approves Title IX regulations and rejects the following resolutions and bills that had been advanced in an attempt to disprove the athletics regulations2:
- June 5, 1975: Sen. Jesse Helms condemns Title IX in its entirety (S.Con.Res.46).
- June 17, 1975: Rep. James G. Martin disapproves of Title IX in its entirety (H.Con.Res.310) and specifically as it pertains to intercollegiate athletics (H.Con.Res.311).
- July 16, 1975: Sens. Paul Laxalt, Carl T. Curtis and Paul J. Fannin disapprove of the application of Title IX to intercollegiate athletics (S.Con.Res.52).
- July 21, 1975: Sen. Helms introduces “a bill to amend Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and to preserve academic freedom” (S. 2146) in an attempt to prohibit the application of Title IX regulations to athletics in situations in which participation in those athletic activities are not a required part of the institution’s curriculum. Sen. Helms would reintroduce S. 2146 as S. 535 in 1977, though neither would be passed.
Title IX federal regulations are issued in the area of athletics. High schools and colleges are given three years, and elementary schools one year, to comply.
February 17, 1976
NCAA files a lawsuit challenging the legality of Title IX. The suit would be dismissed in 1978.5
July 15, 1977
Sens. Tower, Dewey F. Bartlett, and Roman Hruska introduce S. 2106, proposing to exclude revenue-producing sports from Title IX coverage. The bill dies in committee before reaching the Senate floor.2
July 21, 1978
Deadline for high schools and colleges to comply with Title IX athletics requirements.6
December 11, 1979
HEW issues final policy interpretation on “Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics.”6 Rather than relying exclusively on a presumption of compliance standard, the final policy focuses on each institution’s obligation to provide equal opportunity and details the factors to be considered in assessing actual compliance: participation, benefits and treatment, and athletic financial assistance. This also marks the creation of the “three-prong test” (sometimes called the “three-part test” or “equal accommodations test”) still used today to gauge participation compliance.7
May 4, 1980
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) begins operating after its creation a year earlier and is given oversight of Title IX through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).8
February 28, 1984
Grove City v. Bell limits the scope of Title IX, effectively taking away coverage of athletics except for athletic scholarships. The Supreme Court concludes that Title IX only applies to specific programs (i.e., a school’s office of student financial aid) that receive federal funds.9 Under this interpretation, athletic departments are not necessarily covered.
March 22, 1988
The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 is enacted into law over the veto of President Ronald Reagan.10 This act reverses Grove City v. Bell, restoring Title IX’s institution-wide coverage. If any program or activity in an educational institution receives federal funds, all of the institution’s programs and activities must comply with Title IX.
September 6, 1988
Haffer v. Temple University Title IX athletics lawsuit won by plaintiff female athletes gives new, stronger direction to athletic departments regarding their budgets, scholarships, and participation rates of male and female athletes.11
April 2, 1990
Valerie M. Bonnette and Lamar Daniel author Title IX Athletics Investigator’s Manual, issued by OCR and used to assist athletic departments with enforcement and compliance issues.12
February 26, 1992
In Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, the Supreme Court rules that monetary damages are available under Title IX.13 Previously, only injunctive relief was available (i.e., the institution would be enjoined from discriminating in the future; effectively, probation).
Shortly after the Franklin decision, the NCAA completes and publishes a landmark gender equity study of its Division I member institutions, finding significant discrepancies in participation rates and funding between women’s and men’s athletic programs. It also shows that fewer than 50% of women’s teams have female head coaches, as do just 1% of men’s teams, and that “male/female salary discrepancies are significant in almost all instances.”14
October 20, 1994
Sponsored by Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (S. 1468) and Rep. Cardiss Collins (H.R. 921) a year earlier, the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) is officially enacted.15 It requires that any co-educational institution of higher learning that participates in any federal student financial aid program and that sponsors an intercollegiate athletics program must disclose certain information concerning its athletics program. Under the EADA, annual reports are required, the first for each institution due no later than October 1, 1996. You can find the most recently reported data for these colleges and universities here.
January 16, 1996
OCR issues a clarification of the three-prong test, reiterating that institutions may choose any one of three independent tests to demonstrate that they are effectively accommodating the participation needs of the underrepresented sex.16
October 1, 1996
All institutions of higher education must make available for the first time, to all who inquire, specific information on their intercollegiate athletics department, as required by the EADA. In subsequent years, this date would be October 15.15
November 21, 1996
A federal appeals court upholds a lower court’s ruling in Cohen v. Brown University, holding that Brown University illegally discriminated against female athletes.17 Brown argues that it did not violate Title IX because women are less interested in sports than men. Both the district court and the court of appeals reject Brown’s argument. Many of the arguments offered by Brown are similar to those relied upon by colleges and universities all over the country.
July 23, 1998
OCR issues a Dear Colleague letter clarifying that a college or university’s total athletic scholarship budget must mirror the institution’s percentage of athletes of each gender, within 1%. “Thus, for example, if men are 60% of [a school’s] athletes, OCR would expect that the men’s athletic scholarship budget would be within 59%-61%” of the total scholarship budget for all athletes, after controlling for legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for any larger disparity.18
February 20, 2001
The Supreme Court issues a decision in Brentwood v. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, holding that a high school athletic association is a “state actor” and thus subject to the Constitution.19 This affirms that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment applies to athletic associations in gender equity suits.
December 17, 2001
Communities for Equity v. Michigan High School Athletic Association is decided, holding the state athletic association liable under Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and Michigan state law for discriminating against girls by forcing six girls’ sports teams, but no boys’ teams, to compete in nontraditional and/or disadvantageous seasons.20
January 17, 2002
The National Wrestling Coaches Association, Committee to Save Bucknell Wrestling, Marquette Wrestling Club, Yale Wrestling Association, and the College Sports Council (representing national collegiate coaches associations for men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s wrestling and men’s gymnastics), file a suit alleging that Title IX regulations and policies are unconstitutional. It would be dismissed two years later.21
June 27, 2002
Secretary of Education Rod Paige announces the establishment of a Commission on Opportunities in Athletics. The stated purpose of the Commission is “to collect information, analyze issues and obtain broad public input directed at improving the application of current Federal standards for measuring equal opportunity for men and women and boys and girls to participate in athletics under Title IX.”22
October 29, 2002
Following her death one month prior, Title IX is renamed the “Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act” in honor of its major author.23
July 11, 2003
OCR issues “Further Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Guidance Regarding Title IX Compliance.”24 This Further Clarification reaffirms the validity and effectiveness of long-standing administrative regulations and policies governing this application.
March 17, 2005
ED issues “Additional Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy: Three-Part Test – Part Three,”25 significantly weakening Title IX. Schools can now simply send out an email survey to their female students, asking them what additional sports they might have the interest and ability in playing. And if the survey responses do not show enough interest or ability, they do not have to add any sports—and are presumed in compliance with Title IX.
April 20, 2010
ED issues a policy guidance which rescinds the aforementioned “Additional Clarification” and all related documents, including the recommended survey.26
April 4, 2011
ED issues a policy guidance which makes clear that Title IX’s protections against sexual harassment and sexual violence apply to all students, including athletes. It addresses athletics departments in particular in its requirement that schools to use the same procedures that apply to all students to resolve sexual violence complaints involving student athletes.27
April 24, 2013
OCR issues a Dear Colleague letter reminding schools and institutions that retaliation is a violation of federal law.28
June 25, 2013
OCR issues a Dear Colleague letter and creates literature to improve the graduation rates of young parents at secondary schools and postsecondary institutions. The literature stresses that students must be allowed to return to all former academic and extracurricular activities.29
May 14, 2014
OCR issues a Dear Colleague letter that reiterates to public charter schools that they are subject to the same federal civil rights laws, regulations and guidance that apply to other public schools.30
April 24, 2015
OCR issues a Dear Colleague letter to remind school districts, colleges and universities that if they receive federal financial assistance, they must assign at least one employee as their Title IX coordinator.31
May 13, 2016
ED and DOJ issue guidance on protecting transgender students under Title IX.32 ED outlines that the prohibition of sex discrimination encompasses discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, including transgender status. In relation to athletics, schools are permitted to operate sex-segregated athletic teams, but they cannot adopt requirements that are based on stereotypes about differences between transgender students and cisgender students. This interpretation allows age-appropriate, tailored requirements that are based on current medical research about the impact of student participation on competitive fairness and physical safety.
February 22, 2017
OCR rescinds Title IX guidance on transgender students issued on May 13, 2016.33
September 22, 2017
OCR withdraws policy guidance issued on April 4, 2011, which had clarified that Title IX’s procedures and protections against sexual harassment and sexual violence apply to all students, including athletes.34 However, this withdrawal has since been rescinded.
August 14, 2020
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos enacts several changes to Title IX regarding sexual harassment and misconduct that threaten to discourage reporting by survivors and stretch schools’ resources.35
January 20, 2021
President Joe Biden releases Executive Order 13988, “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” which states, “All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” According to the order, laws that prohibit sex discrimination, including Title IX, “prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, so long as the laws do not contain sufficient indications to the contrary.”38
March 8, 2021
President Biden releases Executive Order 14021, “Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free From Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.” It states the Biden Administration’s objective to guarantee to all students “an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” citing Title IX as applicable governing law.39
June 16, 2021
ED issues an interpretation to clarify the protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on gender identity under Title IX in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.40
Some information in this timeline is adapted from the University of Iowa’s History of Title IX Legislation, Regulation and Policy Interpretation.