(un)Happy Anniversary to Girls’ Sports!

June 23

Throughout high school, I competed in both cross country and track. My relay team broke our school record repeatedly, I won the 800-meter at the regional competition, and we earned spots on the podium at the state championships. The opportunity to compete, to be part of a team striving to reach the same goals, to earn a ribbon or point for my team—that made all the pre-dawn bus rides, the physical pain of training, the hours of practice every week,  the pre-race jitters, and that terrible last stretch of the 400-meter worthwhile.

My team was able to get brand new uniforms at some point during my high school career. We had locker rooms to ourselves at my school and at each school we traveled to for competitions. We always had travel allowances for away meets, and our team had just as many competitors as the boys’ team—sometimes even more.

To be honest, I never thought about it at the time, but a federal law called “Title IX” made all of this possible for me and my team. Title IX, part of a suite of civil rights laws, became law on this day in 1972. Title IX ensures that girls have the same access to educational and athletic opportunities as boys.

In other words, if I had been in high school in the 1960’s instead of the 2000’s, I may not have had the opportunity to compete in my sports at all. And even if I did, I probably would’ve had terrible uniforms (if any), no travel stipends, terrible practice schedules to accommodate the boys’ practice times, no championship opportunities, and on and on. It’s no surprise that prior to 1972, only 1 in 27 girls played sports.

Today, every 2 in 5 girls play sports—thanks to Title IX! So, on this, the 48th anniversary of Title IX, we should be celebrating. Nearly 50 years of girls having equal access to athletic opportunities and a massive increase in female athletic participation are worth celebrating! I especially should be celebrating because I now have a baby daughter, and I hope to cheer her on at her own future competitions.

But I’m not celebrating. I’m not celebrating because I’m not sure my daughter will be able to enjoy the same opportunities in athletics that I did.

Nearly 50 years of Title IX, and it seems that activists have girls’ sports on the chopping block to score a political point. They are pushing to permit boys to take spots on girls’ teams (and girls’ athletic scholarships)—if the boys “self-identify” as girls.

And in many cases, the groups leading the charge are the same groups who fought for Title IX in the first place! For example, the ACLU is leading a lawsuit in Idaho (the only state with a law reserving girls’ sports for girls) – despite their former fights to protect female athletes.

In other words, the ACLU once championed girls’ sports—now they fight to make boys girls’ sports champions.

It’s a slap in the face to Title IX and to past, present, and future female athletes of all ages. After all, if boys can simply take the place of girls on their teams, at their podiums, and in their scholarships, what’s the point of having female divisions at all? We may as well erase Title IX and go back to the 1960’s.

Clearly the ACLU and other activist groups have abandoned their decades-old fight to advance athletic opportunities for girls.

But I haven’t, and neither has Family Policy Alliance—and we know you haven’t either.

In fact, we’re at a critical cultural moment as the battle over the very definitions of “male” and female” rages. We can’t afford to lose.

So today, instead of celebrating the anniversary of Title IX, I am going to ask you to

Step 1:  Be sure to sign the #SaveGirlsSports petition—this takes less than 1 minute and goes directly to your lawmakers. Every lawmaker and court in America needs to know that we will not stand by while girls’ sports are used as a pawn in a political game!

Step 2:  Ready to do more? Join the movement on social media! Post about why girls’ sports matter to you using #SaveGirlsSports. You can also change your profile picture so that it looks like mine above with the teal #SaveGirlsSports logo: Click “update” on your profile picture, then “add frame,” and then search for the #savegirlssports frame!

For our girls—yesterday’s, today’s and especially tomorrow’s,

Autumn Leva
Vice President for Strategy

P.S. If you want to learn more about #SaveGirlsSports, check out our Save Girls’ Sports page!