One of the fundamental problems is that the current interpretation of Title
IX legislation does not require schools to provide equal opportunities in
non-athletic extracurricular activities. While male participation is
in athletics, female participation is higher in academic related activities
(see AAUW, Gender Gaps Executive Summary, October 1998). Despite this
schools receiving federal funds are not required to provide an equal
opportunity in these academic related areas.
Typically, it is stated that equity in these programs is not important
they are theoretically open to both sexes. However, that ignores the
reality. If a gender difference exists, it is due to either the school not
providing opportunities suitable to each gender, or the school/teacher
to maintain the gender status quo. As an example, if only two male
sign up for the literary magazine, then only two female students should be
allowed to join to maintain equity.
It was also mentioned several weeks ago that athletic related funding
in the community could not be designated for male sports. However, again
this does not necessarily apply to non-athletic areas. Schools are not
required to ensure that the same amount of money is spent on male and
students. High school bands have more female than male participants and
generally have the highest level of support from the community. Yet, this
money is not required to be spread equally among all students.
I would like to emphasize that any difference in participation must
necessarily be the result of a difference in opportunity. Stating that
students have an equal opportunity to join the literary club is the same as
saying that female students have an equal opportunity to join the football
team. Both may be factually true, but both ignore reality. The true test
equality for a school is if the sum of participation in athletic and
non-athletic opportunities is equal for each gender.
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