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UC Berkeley Library occasion celebrates 50 years of Title IX, a game-changer for girls in sports activities


Speakers sit at a table in Morrison Library
Left to proper: WNBA participant Layshia Clarendon, Cal pupil Maddi Wong, professor and writer Bonnie J. Morris, and writer Lucy Jane Bledsoe make up the panel on the “Title IX at 50” occasion in Morrison Library. (Images by Jami Smith for the UC Berkeley Library)

It’s an event worthy of celebration — with a aspect of activism.

Fifty years in the past, on June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into legislation, banning sex-based discrimination in federally funded colleges. Amongst its far-reaching results, the legislation ushered in a brand new period for women and girls in sports activities — a bunch that had too usually been sidelined in class athletics, whilst alternatives for males abounded.

On Thursday in Morrison Library, a panel of luminaries got here collectively for a pleasant and intimate, joyful but sober dialogue referred to as “Title IX at 50: Trying Again, Trying Ahead.” Throughout the discuss, the panelists — authors Lucy Jane Bledsoe and Bonnie J. Morris; WNBA All-Star and Cal basketball alum Layshia Clarendon; and pupil filmmaker Maddi Wong — mirrored upon the legislation’s legacy, and the work that is still.

“I assumed it was fabulous,” mentioned attendee Peggy Guare, a former student-athlete at an all-girls Catholic college, of the discuss. “There’s nothing higher than listening to folks’s tales stay, in individual.”

Guare, who was drawn to the occasion partly due to her connections to sports activities and the work of Bledsoe and Morris, mentioned she was delighted to listen to from the panelists who had grown up within the post-Title IX period, and who had been carrying ahead the push for equality.

“It’s an actual deal with to see the subsequent technology and listen to from them about their experiences, and their struggles,” she mentioned.

Layshia ClarendonA crowd listens in the Morrison Library
High to backside: Left to proper: Clarendon says basketball saved their life; the in-person Morrison Library viewers was regaled with panelists’ readings, reflections, and vigorous anecdotes.

Listed below are three issues we discovered from the discuss.

1. Title IX was a milestone for progress. However the battle is way from over.

Title IX was one thing of a tidal shift. However the legislation comes with its personal limitations in scope and affect, leaving cracks the place inequality can take root.

The U.S. Structure doesn’t embrace any express safety in opposition to sex-based discrimination on the premise of intercourse, mentioned Bledsoe, who authored the not too long ago launched, “closely autobiographical” novel No Stopping Us Now, a narrative of “basketball, love, sisterhood, and activism.” The nineteenth Modification, granting girls the proper to vote, was handed solely 100 years in the past. And the Equal Rights Modification was written 100 years in the past and hasn’t handed but.

An try by the Biden Administration to increase Title IX has been met with fierce pushback. And someday after the proposal was introduced, the Supreme Court docket struck down Roe v. Wade, erasing hard-fought good points by the motion for abortion rights, a blow to girls and individuals who can bear youngsters.

In brief, “Title IX has loads of heavy lifting to do,” mentioned Bledsoe, a Cal alum and former student-athlete.

As written, the legislation is restricted by its concentrate on colleges that settle for federal funding: “Title IX ends while you graduate,” famous Morris, who teaches the favored Sports activities and Gender course at UC Berkeley and not too long ago authored the guide What’s the Rating? Twenty-5 Years of Instructing Ladies’s Sports activities Historical past.

After school, girls athletes would possibly face a drop-off in assets, together with having to follow in less-than-ideal services — a highschool health club with no showers, for instance.

When COVID-19 pressured school basketball into “the bubble,” girls gamers had been disadvantaged of the identical ample facilities that the boys’s groups acquired, famous Wong, whose documentary i’m girl shines mild on the experiences of Cal girls athletes and sports activities professionals.

This disparity, together with different points, from the unfair burden of social expectations confronted by girls athletes to the necessity for extra girls in administrative positions within the trade, underscores the significance of continued motion.

“There’s nonetheless a lot room for progress and progress that must be made,” Wong mentioned.

2. That story about Invoice Clinton.

In 1995 — 23 years after Title IX had handed — Morris, then a girls’s research professor at George Washington College, attended a double-header basketball sport, with the boys’s and ladies’s groups scheduled to play. Invoice Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, had been in attendance. The lads’s workforce performed first, notching a victory. Then, shortly after the ladies’s workforce took the courtroom, the president acquired as much as go away, Morris mentioned. That’s when Morris stepped in, making her strategy to Clinton.

“I … put my hand out and mentioned, ‘Hello, Mr. President,’” Morris recounted. “I’m a girls’s research professor right here, and I’d prefer to ask you to remain and watch the ladies play. Don’t go away now that the boys have performed. It will be significant to all of us, and your daughter right here, should you would present your help for Title IX legislation and American girls by cheering on the ladies’s workforce, which really has a greater report than the boys’s.

“Please sit down, sir.”

As Morris recollects, Clinton responded by stating he had a gathering on the White Home at 3 o’clock. Morris glanced on the clock and advised he keep for the primary 5 minutes. Clinton took his seat, apparently heeding her request.

“So I gave a direct order to the president of the USA,” Morris quipped.

3. Basketball saves lives.

For Clarendon, the WNBA, and the sport of basketball, has provided acceptance, and room for self-expression.

“I all the time had freedom in my gender in basketball, in sports activities,” mentioned Clarendon, the league’s first overtly transgender and nonbinary participant. “As somebody who’s masc presenting, I might all the time put on sweatpants. It was acceptable to my dad and mom. I all the time knew there have been queer athletes, even earlier than we knew the phrase ‘queer.’”

Sure, Clarendon has skilled homophobia as an athlete. However by way of sports activities, they’ve additionally been launched to a supportive, inclusive neighborhood.

“I all the time had Black girls round me,” Clarendon mentioned. “I all the time had queer folks on my groups. After which I had that sense of gender-affirmation earlier than I knew what gender-affirmation was and will embody it in myself. …

“(Basketball) saved my life in so some ways.”

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