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Tilting the Playing Field: Schools, Sports, Sex and Title I
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Tilting the Playing Field: Schools, Sports, Sex and Title IX, Jessica Gavora, Encounter Books, 2002, 164 pps., $24.95

Is America implementing the defunct Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) through that portion of the 1972 education law known as Title IX? Public policy expert and chief speech writer for Attorney General John Ashcroft, Jessica Gavora, shows in her new book how activist feminists recognized that some of the gains they wanted in ERA might be secured through Title IX.

Gavora writes that Title IX, "twisted and bent by bureaucratic judgment and court interpretations," has "marched triumphantly through every aspect of our educational world, from kindergarten to graduate school, including test scoring, housing facilities, sexual harassment and teenage pregnancy." It has been used to punish six-year-old boys for kissing six-year-old girls on the cheek, change college placement tests such as the SAT to obtain more "gender-equal" results, and create politically-correct speech codes and sexual harassment policies at America's colleges and universities.

Congressional intent in passing Title IX was to address such issues as equality in college admissions, career opportunities and access to financial aid for women. But Gavora demonstrates that Title IX's highest profile impact is in the realm of sports. It is reverently invoked whenever female athletes and sports teams make the evening news.

Failing to make the news, however, are reports of the damage to men's sports by what Gavora terms "the numbers game" - the notion that the female-to-male ratio in school athletic programs must correspond to the female-to-male ratio in the student body at large. She writes that, beginning in 1993, Clinton-appointee Norma Cantu reshaped the federal Office of Civil Rights to reflect this flawed doctrine, which has caused a tremendous shift in college sports and forced the elimination of countless men's wrestling, tennis, swimming, lacrosse, and football teams. At the same time, coaches must scramble to find women to play sports, because men seem to show more interest in sports than women.

Will the gender feminists prevail in their relentless crusade? Or will the wishes of women such as Gavora, who reject the feminist fallacy that men and women are identical in their interests and abilities, and who seek to restore the original intent of Title IX, carry the day?

Encounter Books: www.encounter books.com, ISBN 1-893554-35-X

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