To Fox News' John Stossel, gender inequality and sexism simply no longer exist. In an appearance on Fox News' America Live yesterday, Stossel railed against Title IX, the 1972 legislation that mandated that schools and colleges getting federal funds provide the same opportunities for girls as boys. Stossel dismissed Title IX as legislation by "bully lawyers" whose "conceit and error" resulted in their believing that "just as many girls want to play sports as boys." He also stated that Title IX no longer is needed because, well, according to him, we live in a post-sexist world.
After host Megyn Kelly argued that, sometimes, "you need Uncle Sam to come in and say, hey, be fair to the little girls," Stossel summed up his attack on Title IX this way:
STOSSEL: No. No, the school's trying to attract customers. If the customers want this, and more girls do want to play sports, it will happen. But the conceit and the error of the Title IX lawyers is that the demand is equal -- that just as many girls want to play sports as boys. And I don't think that's true.
But the rapid growth of girls participating in sports since Title IX's passage completely undermines Stossel's argument.
According to The New York Times, when Congress passed Title IX in 1972, roughly 1 in 27 girls, or 4 percent, participated in sports. Just six years later, that number had exploded to 25 percent. Today, roughly 1 in 3 girls plays a sport. This increased participation rate is "proof," according to the National Women's Law Center, "that interest often reflects opportunity."
But nearly 40 years later, the opportunity gap has not closed. In an article examining Title IX compliance at Florida high schools, the Women's Sports Foundation stated: "There is no evidence suggesting girls are inherently less interested in sports than boys. We do know that at an early age (6 to 9 years old), they are equally as interested. However, participation opportunities decline sharply as girls get older." Highlands Today further reported:
After his daughter quit softball before her senior year, [Athletic Director Mort Jackson] asked why. After all, his son had been highly competitive. They were raised by the same parents and attended the same schools.
Why did she respond differently? Her granny had wanted her to play, she told Jackson, but in her last year of high school, she wanted to direct her energy to what was more important to her.
Boys have different role models, Jackson reasoned. Boys might emulate Tim Tebow; girls might choose Miss Florida.
Besides, Rivers reasoned, Title IX requires the percentage of Lake Placid's male and female athletes to match enrollment within 5 percent.
The number of Sebring coaches is comparable for males and females, Quarles pointed out.
"The only inequity here is in the facilities," Rivers admitted frankly. "We have a much nicer baseball stadium than a softball stadium. But baseball has been around longer, and it's greater attended."
Just last month, National Women's Law Center officials filed administrative complaints against 12 schools in districts nationwide after finding that girls in those school districts don't have the same opportunity as boys to play high school sports. The complaint was part of the center's campaign to illustrate "the widespread inequality that daughters face in school sports programs." Center officials warned that the those 12 programs "are the tip of the iceberg." As co-president Marcia Greenberger explained: "Nationwide, only 41 percent of all high school athletes are girls, even though they make up half the student population. That means schools are giving girls 1.3 million fewer opportunities than boys to play sports nationwide. It's past time to rally for girls in high school sports."
Real issues of inequality abound, and if it weren't for Title IX, it's dubious we would have as many girls' soccer, softball, or volleyball players. If it weren't for Title IX, some girls' teams would be forced to play their sport out of season because of limited facilities, or wait and practice after the boys. Or if they do have space, it's the kind that no one wants to use. If it weren't for Title IX, a greater number of women would have skipped college, be unemployed, or obese.
It's not really surprising, however, that Stossel has come out against giving women a fair shot; he previously attacked the Americans with Disabilities Act, expressing outrage over "extra-wide bathroom stalls that reduce the overall number of toilets." And he has also called for repealing the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act.
- John Stossel