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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, June 27, 2002
10:41 PM

Lies, damned lies, and the three-pronged test... In the Senate hearing today and elsewhere, advocates make a big deal over the "three-pronged test" and say it gives schools three different ways to meet the requirements of Title IX. They also say this proves Title IX enforcement does not depend on quotas. I believe author Jessica Gavora
in Tilting the Playing Field when she says they're wrong.

The three ways to get the feds off your back are:

1. Proportionality. Percentage of boys and girls at school pretty much equal percentage involved in sports.
2. If women (or men) are under-represented, show a history of and continuing expansion of programs for women.
3. Demonstrate the interests and ablities of the underrepresented sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program.

In practice, all roads lead to 1, proportionality, or quotas. Prong one assumes (in that weird feminist way) that men and women always want to do the same things, in this case pursue sports in equal numbers. Prong two leads to prong one, because over time you have to keep showing a history of progress toward the quotas in prong one. And though prong three in theory permits schools to accept different proportions of involvement in sports, in practice the Office of Civil Rights has offered limited guidance about what that means, Gavora says:

What does it mean to "fully and effectively accommodate" women's interest in sports? Does this test obligate a university to offer an athletic team to every woman who comes along and requets one? The vagueness of the standard, as well as the time and expense involved in proving it in court or to federal investigators, offers little appeal to schools seeking a "safe harbor" or compliance under Title IX.

So don't believe what those mean Clinton-era attorneys say. Let PostWatch do your thinking for you.

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