Report: Improvements Needed in Title IX Enforcement

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The Biden administration released a proposed Title IX rule this week that would prevent schools from categorically banning transgender students from participating in athletic teams that align with their gender identity.
Photo of athletes

A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has brought to light the concerning state of Title IX enforcement in colleges across the country. The report, titled “Education Should Improve its Title IX Enforcement Efforts,” unveiled startling statistics regarding the systematic violation and lax enforcement of federal gender equity laws in college athletics.

Released publicly on Thursday, the report highlighted that during the 2021-2022 academic year, a staggering 93% of universities had female athletic participation rates lower than their enrollment rates. Even more concerning, 63% of schools exhibited participation-enrollment gaps of 10% or more. Overall, the athletic participation rate for collegiate women was found to be 14% less than their enrollment rate.

Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in institutions receiving federal financial assistance, has historically faced issued with enforcement. The GAO report revealed that no school has ever faced funding repercussions for noncompliance with Title IX, nor has any school been sued by the federal government on such grounds.

The report also criticized the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), responsible for overseeing Title IX compliance, for its limited use of available data and slow monitoring processes. 

GAO’s review of OCR case management data from 2008 to 2022 showed delays in providing feedback and approval for schools’ plans to improve compliance. In some cases, OCR took more than a year, and in others, over five years, to review and approve plans.

“This report confirms the sad, shameful truth,” gender equity attorney Arthur Bryant told Sportico. “Most colleges in America are violating Title IX and depriving women of equal opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics. The federal government isn’t enforcing the law and making them comply like it should. So this illegal sex discrimination is continuing. If girls and women want it to stop, they have to be willing to stand up, fight, and sue.”