Celebrating Title IX at 35

Enhancing Enforcement In a New Administration
Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy

June 23, 2009

Since its passage on June 23, 1972, there have been repeated attacks on Title IX, the civil rights law that guarantees equal educational opportunities to women and girls. After eight years of Bush administration regulations limiting the impact and effectiveness of Title IX, there is now an opportunity to reinvigorate the law and once again prohibit sex discrimination in educational programs receiving federal funds.

Millions of women and girls have reaped the rewards of Title IX since it was launched 37 years ago with the active support of NOW. According to Women’s Sports Foundation, the number of women in school sports increased in 2001 to almost 2.8 million, a nearly ten-fold increase from 294,000 in 1972. Young girls can now watch their favorite women’s sports teams in the WNBA and see women’s soccer on television; there is a proliferation of sports magazines geared to women; and new generations are being exposed to sports like never before. But the lack of equitable funding and repeated weakening of the law has set women and girls back, and there are many repairs to be done.

With a new administration in the White House, President Obama has an opportunity to restore the integrity of Title IX, both in athletics and in education, particularly with regard to single-sex school regulations that promote sex stereotyping and limit girls’ educational opportunities in public schools. The Department of Education must return to its responsibility to promote gender equity and enforcement of the law, and a good start would be to heed the call of the Coalition for Women’s Appointments to fill the job of Special Assistant for Gender Equity (SAGE). That position, which was created to “advise the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on all matters relating to gender equity” and “promote, coordinate, and evaluate gender equity programs, including the dissemination of information, technical assistance, and coordination of research activities” languished unfilled during the entire eight years of the Bush administration.

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An Open Letter to President Obama from People For the American Way

Tell Congress It's Time to Dump DOMA

Sign the Petition

June 23, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I am writing to respectfully urge you to bring the energetic moral vision that you championed as a presidential candidate to the cause of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

Among the reasons that millions of people were inspired by your candidacy was your eloquence on behalf of an America in which everyone is offered respect and equality under the law. At People For the American Way, we disagreed with your decision to stop short of supporting marriage equality, but we welcomed the clarity with which you articulated the constitutional principle of equality in so many other areas. That vision energized not only gays and lesbians, but many other fair-minded Americans who recognize discrimination as a national moral failing, who view equality under the law as a defining part of the American Way, and who believe the country is ready to discard discrimination based on bigotries that should be left in our past. That vision would be even more powerful coming from you as president, but since your election we have heard very little.

Any reasonable person is aware of the extraordinary challenges that faced the nation as you took office, including a dire financial crisis that has cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and access to health care. You have not shied from these most daunting of challenges. But it seems that you have shied from promoting the vision of equality that you articulated during your campaign.

Legislative change is needed, and we will continue to push Members of Congress and the Democratic leadership to move forward to end discrimination against LGBT Americans even as they grapple with other urgent national priorities. We are counting on you to call for and help win passage of legislation that you pledged to support.

As importantly, Mr. President, you are uniquely capable of communicating to the American public the moral and constitutional values at stake in ending discrimination against gay Americans. Beyond the clear harm to gay and lesbian Americans, the lack of your leadership on these issues damages both America’s sense of fairness and the credibility of your administration.

Your recent action to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and your statement from the Oval Office committing yourself to work tirelessly toward equality, could have been the kind of moment that was celebrated as a milestone on the march toward equality. But instead it had the feel of, and was reported as, an incremental half-measure rushed onto the stage to placate a discontented political constituency.

While your comments in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act at the recent signing ceremony were welcome, they would have carried more weight as part of a larger ongoing effort to educate the American public about the moral need for LGBT equality. Moreover, the impact of your words was blunted coming so soon after your administration’s brief in support of DOMA using arguments that degraded gay and lesbian couples. You may have felt it was your duty to defend the law, but your argument that discrimination against same-sex couples doesn’t count as discrimination and citation of case law on incest to claim that marriages of gay couples are unworthy of legal recognition was beyond the pale. Americans who support equality would not have been at all surprised if that brief had been filed by the Bush Administration. Coming from you, particularly without a broader public affirmation of your commitment to equality, it had the force of a hard slap in the face by someone we trusted.

Moreover, in the absence of a stronger statement about the importance of equality for all Americans, it has been equally difficult for your supporters to understand the continued discharges under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell of service members devoting their lives to our country. Congress should vote to repeal the destructive law that destroys military careers and robs the armed forces of highly trained soldiers, but until that happens, you should use your authority as commander-in-chief to suspend discharges of these personnel until that law is changed.

We have seen you change a nation’s conversation with an extraordinarily compelling speech on the issue of race in America. We have seen you change the perceptions of the world with a historic speech on history, pluralism, respect, and democracy to the world’s Muslims. We have seen you bring grace and conviction to the debate with your speech at Notre Dame about preserving a woman’s right to choose.

On the question of LGBT equality, it’s time to make that speech.

Mr. President, you have the opportunity to be on the right side of history. Every day, LGBT Americans face discrimination and are being denied their constitutional rights. There is no one in public life who could, and based on your stated principles and promises should, do more to move America forward toward becoming a country in which LGBT people are respected and treated as fully equal under our Constitution and laws.

We ask for your leadership and voice. When you lead, we will back you with every bit of heart and determination we can muster.

Michael B. Keegan signature
Michael B. Keegan
People For the American Way

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Virginity Movement on the Defensive, Scrambling to Rebrand

By Jessica Valenti, The Nation
Posted on June 23, 2009, Printed on June 23, 2009

Keith Deltano has a high school student tied up onstage and is precariously dangling a cinder block over the young man’s genital region. Deltano is not a school bully or an escaped lunatic. He’s an abstinence proponent, a comedian who uses this brick trick to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of condoms (although the actual lesson learned may be to steer clear of comics brandishing bricks).

Under the Bush administration, stories like this were commonplace. There was the Virginia Beach teacher who told her ninth graders they could be arrested for having premarital sex. And the abstinence teacher who explained to the young women in his class that women are like wrapped lollipops, and that after having sex they’re nothing more than “poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled suckers.”

This would be comical if not for the fact that these people have been teaching — or not teaching, more accurately — young Americans about sex. And then there are the assorted ridiculous sex-scare policy decisions — like the FDA holding up over-the-counter status for emergency contraception out of fear that it would make young women promiscuous or even lead to teens forming “sex-based cults.”

Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/sex/140817/virginity_movement_on_the_defensive%2C_scrambling_to_rebrand/

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Make-over Camp’: good for girls

[This fits in with what I’ve been talking about when I use the term “gender panic” and the idea of enforced indoctrination of heteronormative behavior instead of the environmental socialization that individuals pick up according to their own sense of self.

It also goes along with a lot of the religious misogyny that is particularly anti-feminist, the Purity Balls and Cult of Abstinence/Virginity.]

June 22, 5:52 AM

Matt Kailey

Denver Transgender Issues Examiner

A controversial new summer camp teaches girls ages 10 to 14 how to develop their “presence.” The definition of “presence” appears to involve fashion, makeup, hostess skills, table setting, and flower arranging.

The founders of “Make-over Camp”
in Montreal, presented on the Maclean’s magazine Web site, claim that young girls need these skills, but sociologist Marc Lafrance has called the camp a “Wife Camp,” and parents are divided on whether or not such a camp is valuable or detrimental for girls.

Bethany Sanders of ParentDish <http://tinyurl.com/n3dtou> says, “While I think a camp like this sends the wrong message to girls in general, I suspect there are girls out there who might be interested in it. It’s like princess dresses. Moms worry when their little girls want to wear princess dresses — day in and day out — that they aren’t getting enough exposure to gender neutral activities. But some little girls just want to be princesses, no matter how many trucks you stuff in their toy box.”

Camp founders say that they have tried to solicit interest from boys, but so far, none have come forward. It is likely that there are some boys out there who might be interested, but in societies with strict gender roles in place, a boy of that age group would open himself up to more than just taunts and teasing if he expressed an interest in some type of “make-over camp.”

And while some girls will inevitably want to attend such a camp, it can present dangers. Parents of transgendered or gender-diverse girls might send their daughter to such a camp in the hope of “changing” or “correcting” her, rather than letting her express her true gender identity. For a girl with gender identity issues or a strong male gender identity, such a camp could cause enormous emotional trauma.

In the award-winning book The Last Time I Wore a Dress, author Daphne Scholinski writes about her involuntary hospitalization for gender identity issues and how she was forced to wear makeup and female clothing in attempt to rid her of her male gender identity.

Now Dylan, Scholinski lives in Denver, where he creates, exhibits, and sells his art and works on his Sent(a)mental Project: A Memorial to GLBTIQA Suicides <http://sentamentalstudios.weebly.com/sam-project.html> , “a collection of creative works about, by, or for individuals or groups affected by suicide.” (GLBTIQA — gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, queer, questioning, allies)

While a two-week summer camp is hardly comparable to years in a hospital setting, for a little girl with gender issues, it might seem frighteningly similar.

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