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Share Your Story: Do you have a Title IX story to share?

Do you have a Title IX story to share?

More than 40 years of breaking down barriers for women and girls is a spectacular achievement, and we want to mark this milestone and launch Title IX forward into its next 40 years and beyond.  But we need your help!

The National Women's Law Center is compiling Title IX stories from the past and present. We're determined to keep the pressure on to fulfill the law's promise, and by sharing your story today, you can help us do just that.

Please share your story below, and we're not just talking about sports stories. Do you have a story about the science and technology fields, about school bullying and harassment, or about pregnant and/or parenting students? Title IX reaches all those issues and more — and we want to hear those stories, too!

Please note: The views expressed in the stories below are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Women's Law Center. All statements of fact in these stories have been provided by the individual authors, and the National Women's Law Center cannot and does not vouch for their accuracy. The Center will compile the stories and may use them, in whole or in part, in our advocacy efforts.

Your Stories

CarolAnn

Boston, Massachusettes, Retired Corporate Controller; Now - Fighting Law School Discrimination

I am having difficulty in law school.  First, being accepted due to my age.  Top Law Schools do not want students over 34 yrs of age.  This has been clearly communicated to me.  The law professors do not want to be 'challenged' I have been told.  Asking questions such as 'why' are considered a challenge.  Thus, the lower ranked schools have professors who grade older students with lower grades so they will not pass.  These professors claim students as myself 'are not competent to practice law.'  Yet, students such as myself see beyond what the professor is teaching 'because' we have many real world experiences.  I suppose these real world experiences that bring forth the questions of 'why' and 'what about this' are the challenges the professors do not experience with the young students without experience of life; work, family, and business.This is currently happening to me.  I am not incompetent 'because' I have proven my abilities as a student, business woman, mother and wife over the past 40 years.  The evidence of my success is as follows: 1. Executive corporate controller in several companies; 2.I have and still do own various small successful businesses that have provided employment and tax revenue; 3. In preparing for the LSAT test and attending law school I retained several professional instructors yet, mysteriously my LSAT results never reached the results from the pre-testing days and my test scantron forms always had various inconsistent markings upon them. The firm that controls the testing, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) refuses to address the questions.If I am being discriminated against and not being allowed a higher education after all my success in business, family and community then who can say any person other than white males are equal, progrogressing in life, and being given equal opportunity?   I have been told that 'I will not amount to anything in law' and 'I just don't get it, I do not understand one thing about civil procedure.'  This is when I realized these are the words that young people hear often; especially in poor areas, people of various color and ethnicity, women, gay, and any other discription other than the typical white male in the U.S.A.Not one Civil Rights Agency will step forward and take the challenge, my evidence is clear.  Everyone fears the Society of Law, the underground manipulation that has hold of our country and pulling the strings.  Many Law Schools are taking students only for the tuition; then they give them low grades and drop the student with government loans to pay off.   This is happening in Boston and in other states, but no one will step forward.Women, and other minorities cannot proceed in life with false light and words on paper saying things are getting better.  Words on paper are meaningless.  The honor of ones word is shown by taking action and fulfilling what one promised to do, regardless of what is in writing.  February 2014CarolAnn   Boston, Massachusettes 

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Becky Foellmer

Plainfield, Illinois, Teacher

For me, Title IX meant everything.  I grew up in a small town in southern Illinois and was not allowed to play any sports in school until my junior year in high school.  Athough Title IX passed in 1972, it wasn't until 1974 that my high school finally offered a few girls' sports.  My junior year a tennis and track team were offered and my senior year, volleyball was added.  Of course, my school still was not in compliance with Title IX as there were many more teams and opportunities for the boys.  For me, however, getting to play at least some high school sports (rather than being given the job of statistician for the basketball team as I was in junior high) was amazing!  After sitting on the sidelines and watching for so long, finally getting to participate (in spite of my limited skill development) felt great.  I ended up playing both tennis and badminton in college and even managed to get a scholarship my senior year for badminton.  (It took me a while to develop my skill level to the point of warranting a scholarship.)  While it is perfectly logical to expect equal opportunities for both genders, the fact remains that it wasn't until Title IX passed that things changed for most girls and women, particularly in the athletic arena.  My older sister never got to play organized school sports and my younger sister was blessed to play all she cared to.  I am forever thankful to those who fought for what was right and changed the course of my life and that of so many others.  Sports connected me to people I would have never otherwise known including my husband.   Over the years I have taught in my classes about various forms of discrimination and the importance of fair treatment for all regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, etc.  It is amazing how many young girls have no idea that there was time when they would not have been allowed on any playing field, court, or track - except as a statistician!  I guess that's a good thing.

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Diane Crothers

New York, New York, Graduate student

 As I finished my first year of law school in 1972, Congress passed Title IX, designed to ensure equal educational opportunities for girls and women and, a less well-known fact, for boys and men. (President Nixon signed it on June 23, a mere six days after the Watergate burglary that would topple his presidency.) Forty years later, I remember the ways in which my educational opportunities were diminished because of my gender. I am grateful for the commitment of feminists of both sexes to create educational equity for girls and women, boys and men. I have two pre-school granddaughters who deserve the equal treatment that was a dimly perceived dream for me. In the early sixties, in my high school in New Britain, Connecticut, the girls competed to be chosen Homecoming Queen and the boys were, of course, the much-admired football captains. Girls were encouraged to achieve academically, at least white, upper-middle-class girls like me, along with the boys. I was inducted into the National Honor Society and earned mostly A’s in my academic subjects.  But trouble was brewing. I had already been arguing with my parents against curfews and social restrictions that boys didn’t have to obey by the time I was a senior. And then, when I was accepted to several colleges, I felt I didn’t need to obey any more objectionable rules. What were they going to do – revoke my acceptance? I didn’t know that they could, indeed, have done so. I don’t remember exactly how I thought of it, but I suddenly stopped being willing to take any tests in school and began to plot, with my best friend, ways to have increasingly out-of-bounds adventures. We planned to stay in school overnight, hiding in a closet. Somehow, that never came off. And I began to strategize about which boy I could have sex with, for the very first time. At graduation, my high school history teacher exchanged anguished smiles with my mother, who spent her time wringing her hands at my misbehavior. Little did she know that he had asked me out for coffee! He was an excellent teacher for whom I researched Rousseau’s “Emile.” But he also had non-teacherly designs on me. Off to college, where my British Literature professor, alone with me in his office during a consultation about a term paper, grabbed me and kissed me, full on the mouth. I had no idea what to think of this – he was a much older, married, not particularly attractive professor and I couldn’t figure out why he did such a thing. When the next semester my American literature professor, alone with me with a table between us, at least, told me what a beautiful soul I had, I switched majors. No more English for me. (Decades later, the first professor retired and the provost confided to me that his early retirement was related to similar instances with other female students. He provided his female students many, many years of an unequal education, taking them for attractive objects rather than serious students.) In a history class, I wrote a paper about Thomas Jefferson’s views of the City. My professor stopped me in the hallway, once he’d read it. “Where did you get this information?” he demanded. “What do you mean? I researched it,” I stumbled in my answer, afraid of his obvious anger. “I think it’s plagiarized,” he said. “It’s of publishable quality, young lady.” I didn’t have the self-confidence to see this as a potential compliment and to ask him for his support in my becoming a writer. After all, I was searching for a career plan, having switched from English to history. He probably didn’t think female students should have career plans. In law school, I made sure I was never alone with a male professor. It was much later when I realized how this may have compromised my career opportunities – I didn’t develop mentors the way I might have. At this time there were only two female law professors at my school. (One of them was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and together with another lawyer and other feminists, we founded The Women’s Rights Law Reporter. On a lawwiki.rutgers.edu post of our affectionately-named the People’s Electric Law School at the time, a quick count of faculty photographs shows thirty seven professors, only one of whom is black and only two are women. Professor Ginsburg’s caption says “Doubles as a go-go dancer on the East Side.” Even a future Supreme Court Justice was trapped in her gender. And all the administrative/secretarial staff pictured are women.)  Class discussion was also tainted by gender. The evidence course I took was taught by an expert in the field. One difficulty was that the casebook he had written and that was required in the course was filled with sexual abuse cases, many of them involving gang rape and hideous torture of the female victims. The other barrier women students faced was that he loved to call on the women students to recite the facts of cases of especially salacious sexual violence. The day I reached my breaking point was when he professor asked a female student to discuss a particularly egregious, extended multiple rape and torture crime. He settled in to hear her describe these facts in her lovely voice, a smart and young attractive woman, subordinate to him and expecting to learn from him.  I became unable to watch this display. I dropped the course and waited until it was taught by a professor whose wife was a women’s studies professor in another state, thinking this would be an improvement. It was. We critically discussed the widely accepted legal theory that if an alleged rape victim was a virgin, that fact weighed positively on her credibility, while if she was not, her sexual experience weighed against her. We enjoyed a freewheeling dissection of the ways law and patriarchy interact. My first job after law school was to direct an affirmative action program at part of the City University of New York. The women faculty had sued the university for unequal treatment in hiring, promotion, salaries and benefits and in these post-Watergate days campuses were still lively places of much debate. As I reviewed the application of the law of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and of Title IX at my campus, I discovered a common set of apparent discrepancies. Equally qualified women faculty were paid less than men, hired at lower ranks and evaluated for promotion more stringently. Women students were affected by these inequities as they studied and worked in classrooms still run almost exclusively by men. Some departments were still entirely composed of male faculty. And yet, year after year, federal grants and contracts remained unthreatened. My vice president admonished me that I was not a federal employee, implying that I shouldn’t take enforcing these federal laws so seriously.  Over the years I worked my way to the executive level in the federal government, having spent some years teaching gender and the law as an adjunct at several colleges and universities. The world was changing and I did, too.  And the girls that arrive each year in kindergarten are, as Goldieblox puts it, so much “more than princesses.” Perhaps the world they live in will let them breathe free, the way Emma Lazarus’s poem of long ago imagined for the immigrants on our shores. 

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Caroline Robinson

Prairie Village, Kansas, School

Is am also doing a NHD project and this was very helpful!!!

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Caroline Robinson

Prairie Village, Kansas, School

Is am also doing a NHD project and this was very helpful!!!

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Paulette A. Meulenberg

Frederick, MD, Retired

I am a "senior" citizen, I believe. My story is from the sixties, but still relevant today. I was one of those working during the "space race to the moon" with all the dreams and hopes of the times. Women were excluded in this at every level you could think of. My daughter (Csl-Tech) cannot understand anything we speak of here. My husband has a PHD in nuclear physics from Vanderbilt. For years he told me (proudly!) about a young WOMAN who applied to grad school (the nerve!) and was of course! rejected. Why? She was Catholic, would become pregnant and dropout, wasting everybody's time. It turned out the ENTIRE grad class were drafted and sent to Vietnam as Privates. It took many years and two daughters before he realized the real story here. I hope Vanderbilt has changed for the better. I was also apalled that students were told such by faculty. 

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Karen

Andover, Mass, Teacher

Here's my story...When I was young I played with the neighborhood kids, mostly boys.  We played everything.  When we grew to be a little older I followed the boys off to little league practice, glove in hand, only to be told I wasn't allowed.  One of my friends was chosen for a team with a coach who would let me practice with them. I played catcher back then, and I was quite good, better than the boy catcher but still the coach couldn't let me play in any games.My friends and I went into middle school, there were sport offerings for me.  I played 6 aside intramural basketball after school.  Things changed  quickly.  I asked why we couldn't run the full court, then experienced the addition of the rover position in basketball... Two forwards only allowed in the front court, two guards only allowed on the back half, and two rovers allowed to run the whole court.  What freedom, I was always a rover.  By the time I got to high school it was five on five full court, we played other schools, and there were numbers of other sports.  My town was great.  The newspaper came to interview me and a few of my friends about Title IX and our experience.  Then I injured my knee.  I was told by the Athletic Director that I should stop playing sports, that the training room, the trainer, and the training supplies were all in the boys lockoom room, all for the boys.  The Director called a meeting with my parents, my mom came and my dad went to work.  Mom sat quiet, listening, the meeting ended, I continued to play.  In secret the trainer, worried about backlash, met me in my last period classroom to tape me every day.  As a graduating senior I was voted the top female athlete in my class and given a number of scholarships.I went off to college to study physical education.  I continued to play sports, with a lingering knee problem until a jump shot freshman year during basketball season tore away what remained of my anterior crutiate,  The school physician said I needed surgery.  I opted to return home to work with my surgeon at home only to hear from him that I should quit playing sports because a scar on my knee would do little for my bikini days on the beach.  Ha. Though much had changed, much had remained the same.  That was 1976.  Still 40 years later we can say the same.

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Karen

Andover, Mass, Teacher

Here's my story...When I was young I played with the neighborhood kids, mostly boys.  We played everything.  When we gt o be a little older Ingollowed the boys off to little league practice, glove in hand, only to be old I wasn't allowed.  One of my friends got on a team with a coach who would let me practice with them. I played catcher back then, and I was quite good, better than the boy catcher but still the coach couldn't let me play in any games.My friends and I went into middle school, there wesports sport offerings for me.  I played 6 aside intramural basketball after school.  Things changed  quickly.  I asked why we couldn't run the court, then s experienced the addition of the rover position in basketball... Two forwards only allowed in the front court, two guards only allowed on the back half, and two rover allowed to run the whole court.  What freedom, I was always a rover.  By the time I got to high school it was five on five full court, we played other schools, and there were numbers of other sports.  My town was great.  The newspaper came to interview me and a few of my friends about Title IX and our experience.  Then I injured my knee.  I was told by the Athletic Director that I should stop playing sports, that the training oom, the trainer, and the training supplies were all in the boys lockoom room, all for the boys.  the Director called a meeting with my parents, my mom came and my dad went to work.  Mom sat quiet, listening, the meeting ended, I continued to play.  In secret the trainer, worried about backlash, met me in my last period classroom to tape me every day.  As a graduating senior I was voted the top female athlete in my class abpnd given a number of scholarships.i went off to college to study physical education.  I continued to play sports, with a lingering knee problem until a jumpshott freshman year souring basketball seasodrilled away what remained of my anterior crutiate,  the school physician said I needed surgery.  I opted to return home to work with my surgeon at home only to hear from him that I should quit playing sports because a scare on my knee would do little for my bikini days on the beach.  Ha. Though much had changed, much had remained the same.  That was 1976.  Still 40 years later we can say the same.

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Sine Anahita

Fairbanks, AK, Assoc Prof of Sociology; coordinator of Women's & Gender Studies

The student newspaper at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has published two stories in recent weeks that, in my opinion, constitute illegal sexual harassment. In one case, the newspaper published a fake news story for its April Fools edition that used a sexual slur for women's genitals in the headline, accompanied by a graphic depiction of a woman's body, legs spread for a gynecological exam. Fake quotes of a sexual nature were attributed to real women by name who work at the university. Many of my students were upset by the article, as were many faculty and staff. Other students commented that the article was just a joke and that women like me who objected should, in the words of one of my students, "just lighten up." Because I'm a sociologist, I conducted a survey in two of my intro classes about the article. Most of the respondents agreed that the article was degrading to women. Most of them also agreed that the article was funny. Thus the majority of the students surveyed seem to believe that degrading women through graphic sexual mockery is funny.  I filed a complaint of hostile environment due to sexual harassment with our university's Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, where our Title IX coordinator works. At first, the director declined to process my complaint. After about a week, her official response was that upon the advice of our university's General Counsel, she would not investigate my complaint. The most recent case of sexual harassment by the student newspaper occurred this week. http://www.uafsunstar.com/archives/23256  A student journalist wrote an article about a student-run Facebook site where students at my university are invited to post their secrets. Many of the posts are racist in nature, many are sexual, and others are simply student silliness. To accompany the article, the newspaper printed a screenshot of student posts that identify a woman student by name, commenting on her sexual activities: "Like if you've fucked (real name of student)".  Another anonymous poster wrote that she suspected her roommate may be pregnant. A named male student responded: "Punch her in the stomach. She'll thank you later." Yet another named student called another student a "fag". The newspaper article is entitled, "UAF Confessions harbors hate speech", and the screenshots were meant to demonstrate the extent of the hate speech. However, the names of the students should have been redacted. What the newspaper has done in printing actual names of actual students is akin to newspapers reporting the names of rape victims. And in this case, printing the real names constitutes sexual harassment that creates a hostile learning and working environment. I can't describe the degree of my distress. I know several of the students. These students are in my classes. I'm dismayed at their ignorance and their hostility to women. My job is to teach these students so that they learn why and how sexual harassment occurs. However, how can I teach, how can I work, and how can students learn in a university environment that condones sexual harassment in the student newspaper??? After my most recent experience with the university's refusal to investigate the previous incident, I have no expectation that filing another complaint will result in any action. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has apparently decided that the student newspaper is free to sexually mock, degrade, humiliate, bully, harrass, and target women, even to the point of calling the women by their full names.

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Lisa Kurtz

Dade City, Florida,

I'm writting on behalf of an entire school, in Dade City, Florida.  Moore Mickens Education Center, first established in 1930 as the only school for students of color, at that time. It transitioned to the "school for students" that "no other schools want.There are a significant number of pregnant teens, and student parents that attend Moore Mickens, because of trouble regarding things like bullying and discrimination at other schools. They are part of the "cyesis" program. The school is also home for students with disabilities, like My 17 year old Son, who is enrolled in the adult education program, and ESOL or Migrant students, and those who are at risk for dropping out.Recently the School Board decided to close this school, we have not been given a date yet, but it could be as early as the end of this month. The only information provided to the public by the school board is that the students may be re-located to portables at some of the very same high schools the students left, to be at Moore Mickens. Students who want to learn, but can't in the traditional setting due to various reasons are being forced out of their chosen school.Moore Mickens is on the east side of the city and the proposed schools are on the west side. Many students ride bikes, walk or have family, friends or whomever they can transport them to Moore Mickens for classes at night. The difference in distances of the schools will prevent many students from attending. The only other adult learning center is over 40 miles away and since most students are in a stressed socio-economic situation, they will not be able to travel to that center either.This is a small town, with limited resources, but the people in support of keeping the school open, including the city council realize we may not have a chance without the help of a lawyer. Contacting the florida board of education has done no good. We are desperate. None of the students want to be displaced, but it is especialy hard for the pregnant teens, teen parents and students with exceptionalities such as My Son. Though the Superintendent states this is not a racial or discriminatory matter, there is a thing called disperate effect. Meaning; though the intentions of the school board may not be discriminatory, the results are. Please pray for us that we are able to keep this wonderful school open! Thank You!  

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