This post has been shared with the students, faculty and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaii system on June 23, 2022.
Fifty years ago today, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments was signed into law. The enduring civil rights legislation addressing gender equality in education is particularly important to the university as one of its principal authors, Congressman Patsy Takemoto Minka university of Hawaii Distinguished Alumna, was title IX‘s most staunch institutional advocate. The law states simply and profoundly: “No one in the United States may be excluded because of sex from participating in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in connection with any education program or activity that receives federal funding. †
Despite considerable resistance, the Maui-born congressman and her co-authors transformed American schools and universities by banning educational institutions from discriminating in any way on the basis of gender. In honor of her unwavering commitment and perseverance to bring gender equality into all dimensions of education, Congress renamed Title IX as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002 after her death. While Mink was denied entry to medical school because she was a woman, title IX now prohibits gender discrimination in all disciplines. Title IX also ensures equitable participation regardless of gender in athletics. and title IX prohibits sexual harassment, including assault and other forms of sexual violence; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; treatment of LGBTQI+ students; discipline; sex education; and employment. These are all protections that must be guaranteed by any educational institution that receives federal financial aid for all students and employees, whether they are female, male or non-binary.
Given the extensive scope of Title IX, lawmakers could have written hundreds of pages and not achieve what these 37 words did. We have no idea what contributions Patsy would have made as a doctor had she been admitted to medical school. But it’s hard to imagine she could have had a bigger impact on… Hawaii and the nation beyond what she accomplished as a civil servant, armed with her law degree and her relentless passion for justice for all.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Title IXand Patsy Mink, we have planned numerous educational and commemorative events this year to celebrate our achievements, critique what lies ahead, and challenge us to reflect on the importance of Title IX and his legacy. This year and as we look forward to the next 50 years of Title IX, we are reminded that while much has been accomplished, there is still more work to be done. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to future generations of students as the only provider of public higher education in Hawaii, upholding our pledge to promote civil rights and gender equality within our university community. The university will continue to offer educational programs to raise awareness of title IX rights and resources, strengthen programmatic initiatives in prevention and early reporting, provide training and support resources for students and staff, and re-engage in our collaborations with community partners. I hope that the underlying values of equality, inclusion and justice are defended in the spirit and intent of Title IX will bring long-lasting change and a culture shift towards a future at UH that is free from all forms of gender discrimination, while guaranteeing and celebrating equal opportunities and access to education for all.
E malama pono,