EDITORIAL: What's Next?

Title IX is great, but there's lots more work to do

CMU Grand Marshalls Cristy Freese, Margo Jonker, Sue Guevara and Marcy Weston walk past the seal before the homecoming parade on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Warriner mall.

If you’ve read our latest print edition, you know all about the decorated women legends that have graced Central Michigan University’s campus for the past several decades. The ability of women in sports today at this university is largely thanks to the six women represented at CMU’s homecoming last week as grand marshals.

Central Michigan Life’s cover story gives a lengthy explanation of how their legacy started and carried them to the present day.

But one part of the conversation that can not be left out of is the ever-present need for progress.

Title IX is great. In 1972, it provided women student-athletes equal treatment under the law, and since then has added protection from sex-based harassment and sexual violence.

But it’s been 50 years. And student athletes need more.

On the day of the anniversary - June 23 - the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) opened a public comment for proposed changes to Title IX that would broaden the definition of sex-based harassment and discrimination to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

According to Education Week, 235,816 responses were received as of the Sept. 12 deadline. 

Responses detailed reasons in favor of and against the proposal. The answers highlight an enormous variety of opinions on this matter.

"I plead with you to update the current definition of sexual harassment that is found in the 2020 Title IX regulation to not force the Alt-Right Conservative Religious agenda on the children of this nation," one comment in favor of the revisions said.

"In the 701 pages, the Department of Education appears to be undermining the family and inflicting harm to girls. Further defining discrimination should be a matter for the legislature and the courts to determine. Re-writing the rules to conform to a political agenda is not the purpose of the Executive Branch of government," a comment against the proposal said.

The effort to update the regulations originally began in March.

According to the DOE, the proposed regulations would:

· Clearly protect students and employees from all forms of sex discrimination.

· Provide full protection from sex-based harassment.

· Protect the right of parents and guardians to support their elementary and secondary school children.

· Require schools to take prompt and effective action to end any sex discrimination in their education programs or activities – and to prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.

· Protect students and employees who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions.

· Require schools to provide supportive measures to students and employees affected by conduct that may constitute sex discrimination, including students who have brought complaints or been accused of sex-based harassment.

· Require schools to provide supportive measures to students and employees affected by conduct that may constitute sex discrimination, including students who have brought complaints or been accused of sex-based harassment.

· Protect LGBTQI+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

· Clarify and confirm protection from retaliation for students, employees and others who exercise their Title IX rights.

· Improve the adaptability of the regulations' grievance procedure requirements so that all recipients can implement Title IX's promise of nondiscrimination fully and fairly in their educational environments.

· Ensure that schools share their nondiscrimination policies with all students, employees and other participants in their education programs or activities.

U.S. President Joe Biden also vowed to do more work to protect all people from discrimination in athletics, not just women.

"I am committed to protecting this progress and working to achieve full equality, inclusion, and dignity for women and girls, LGBTQI+ Americans, all students and all Americans," a written statement from Biden said.

CMU has come a long way in 50 years. But there's more work to be done for all identities on campus. With the six grand marshals, among many leaders, trailblazing a path to equality, it will take intention and motivation from everyone to make sure change happens.

Like these ladies did in their respective sports, let's work together to make this an equitable campus and more importantly, home, to all students.