IX – A Brief Legislative History
by Birch Bayh
Title IX grew out of my
work in sponsoring the Equal Rights Amendment in the early 1970s. We had been trying for a few years to bring the Equal
Rights Amendment out of the Judiciary Committee onto the floor of the Senate, and feared that even after passage it could take years before the states ratified the
amendment making it the law of the land.
1971, we saw an opportunity to more immediately redress discrimination against women in education by attaching a new section
– Title IX – to the Higher Education Act that was on the on the floor of the Senate for reauthorization.
I wrote Title IX -- just one sentence long -- and moved in the Senate to have it added to
the reauthorization bill. Another senator ruled a Point of Order, contending that since the word “sex” was not
included in the Higher Education Act, Title IX – which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex – was not
While the discussion on the matter of
germaneness was continuing, I asked a senate colleague and supporter of Title IX to take my place on the floor because I had
to go down the hall to a committee room, where the Judiciary Committee was meeting to finally pass out the Equal Rights Amendment.
Judiciary Committee Chairman James Eastland of Mississippi had asked me to chair the committee that day in his absence. I
called the committee to order, and after less than 15 minutes of debate, the roll was called and the ERA received unanimous
support of all members.
I left the Judiciary Committee
meeting, and went back to the floor to continue leading the Title IX debate, contending that it certainly was germane to any
education bill. When the roll was called, we lost the germaneness issue by one vote.
In the next session of Congress, we overcame the parliamentary objections to Title IX –
proving that gender was indeed germane to the Higher Education Act.
Prior to Title IX, women students were denied equal opportunities under the law in academics; women applicants
were routinely denied equal acess to medical, law and other graduate disciplines; and women athletes were denied equal participation
in sports. Similarly, female faculty members were denied equal compensation and promotion.
My own education
Women in academics
My late wife, Marvella, educated me about discrimination against women in higher education after her experience being
told by the University of Virginia that "women need not apply.”
Women in sports
My father, Birch Bayh, Sr., was Superintendent of Physical Education for the DC School System for 30 years. I'll
always remember one morning in 1940 at our family breakfast when Dad told my little sister and me that he was going to be
testifying before Congress that day. “What are you going to tell them, Daddy,” we asked. He said, “I’m
going to tell them that little girls need strong bodies to carry their minds around just like little boys.”