Snowe introduces bill to strengthen Title IX

Posted March 03, 2009, at 11:11 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said she aims to draw more girls to high school sports by making schools report the gender breakdown of their athletic programs and making that information available online.

In legislation proposed recently, high schools would collect information on the gender and ethnicity of participants in school-sponsored athletic programs, including the number of practices, games and playoff appearances each team makes. Information on each school would be posted on the Department of Education’s Web site.

“While we’ve made tremendous progress in ensuring gender equity, students and parents can’t see whether the law is being followed because they don’t have key information about scholarships, opportunities or athletics budgets,” Snowe said in a statement Wednesday. “This bill would help us take those last couple steps and en-sure that girls are getting the same chance to play sports as their male peers.”

The bill, also sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would enact the same requirements for high schools that are already mandated for colleges and universities under Title IX, which requires that federal funds be distributed equally between male and female teams.

College athletic programs risk lawsuits from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights if they do not comply with Title IX, said Katie Herbine, associate athletic director for compliance at the University of Maine.

Stricter reporting requirements could force high schools to “open their eyes” to the fact that they are not complying with the law’s provision on gender parity, she said.

“Universities have been caught on this before,” Herbine said. “A lot of places do the best they can, but sometimes that’s not good enough.”

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