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Calif. Lawmaker Bashes Title IX—With Brandi Chastain in the Room

The California Assembly passed a measure 71-0 on Monday in recognition of the upcoming 40th anniversary of Title IX, but generated a bit of controversy in the process.

Despite the presence of Brandi Chastain, one of the stars of the U.S. women's soccer team that won the Women's World Cup in 1999, one assembly member couldn't hide his disdain for Title IX, the federal law most well-known for requiring gender equality in interscholastic athletics.

"We need to be honest about the effects of what I believe are faulty court interpretations or federal enforcement of Title IX, because it has led to the abolition of many male sports across the board in UCs and Cal States," said Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, according to the Associated Press. "And that was never the intention of this, to have numerical equality. It was never the intention to attain equality by reducing opportunities for the men."

The remarks visibly agitated Chastain (who was sitting in the back of the room), the AP reported. Despite raising her hand to object to the remarks, Chastain was denied a chance to speak because it wasn't a public hearing.

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Other lawmakers, however, stepped up and rebutted Mr. Norby's assertions. One said, "Equality is yet to be attained" between young male and female student-athletes.

To that point, one could look at the most recent High School Athletics Participation Survey from the National Federation of State High School Associations, from the 2010-11 school year. While nearly 3.2 million girls participated in high school sports that year, that's still nearly 1.3 million short of the roughly 4.5 million boys who played school sports in that same time period.

Norby isn't the first to claim that Title IX has effectively created reverse discrimination against boys. The American Sports Council, a group dedicated to Title IX reform, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education last year over the application of Title IX's three-part compliance test in high schools, claiming that schools may feel pressure to slash men's sports if they can't otherwise come into compliance. A district court dismissed that case earlier this year without hearing arguments from the ASC.

The resolution passed by the California Assembly on Monday commends high school and college coaches of women's sports "for progress in attaining the goals of Title IX and fulfilling the hopes and dreams of girls and women in sports."

As we move closer to the 40th anniversary of Title IX (which is on June 23), our coverage will be growing more extensive, so keep checking back on edweek.org these next few weeks for plenty more on the topic.

Photo: Soccer star Brandi Chastain grimaces over the remarks made by California Assemblyman Chris Norby during commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX on May 14 at the State Capitol in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

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