Thursday, April 3, 2014

Title IX Collides with the Lies of the Radical Right


The following should be important to everyone who has a mother, sister, wife, daughter or granddaughter.

It is my reliable litmus test for conservatives that they believe things which are wrong, erroneous, false, and factually deficient.  Even when they have the correct information provided, it is my experience that conservatives choose to continue with the false information; it is part of their identity that they become deeply attached to the false information and reject the true and accurate new information, to such an extent that it is a defining quality.

It also seems to be a reliable marker or indicator that their focus will be against some minority group or group that is not in power that they desire to disadvantage, and to see as victimizing them, as well as their intense antipathy to the government which tells them they may not act on that desire.

That was true of the recent effort on the part of the right wing media to gin up outrage against both girls, public education, and the federal government - a three-fer.

This includes massive hatred for Title IX, which gives girls and women parity in playing sports within the authority of academic institutions, ranging from K-12 to higher education.  The value of Title IX is that there is a strong causal connection between women succeeding in the business world, particularly at the "C-class" level (CEO, etc.) as well as being a factor in women who run for - and are elected to - public office.  Key appears to be the experience of playing at a highly competitive level, and the experience of winning and losing, and then continuing to play.

The number of girls who have entered into playing sports in school has gone from around 250,000 in the early 70's when Title IX became law, and more than 3 million now.  The number of women in public office, while lower in the U.S. than in some other countries, (and so far, not the top spot) has also grown significantly since the mid-20th century when feminism had its big explosion pushing towards gender equality.

I came across a story that tracked back to extremist propaganda fountain Glenn Boo-hoo Beck and the Blaze, and a Fox not-news station. Typically, it followed the right-wing memes that boys are somehow being disadvantaged (a variant on being feminized and/or any pretext for anti-feminism) by the evil federal government and the evil public school system, and of course, evil feminism. Then there is that other tell-tale sign of conservatism - the notion that they are somehow victimized by being forced to co-exist in the 21st century, instead of the 19th.  In the eyes of true conservatives, any time good ol' white boys are not given both preference and dominance over brown people and female humans, their world is out of joint, god is crying, and society is coming unglued at the seams.  And always, the conservatives look to bash the federal government, even if they have to lie to do so.
Here is what Kate Dietrich, spokesperson from the school district had to say about a story totally distorted and misrepresented by the right wing media regarding Title IX compliance that enforces equal treatment of girls and boys playing sports under the authority of the Civil Rights branch of the Dept. of Education, via Bob Cook at Forbes :
We completely understand the concern over this act of compliance, as the baseball seating was donated and built by well-intentioned parent boosters and not the school district.  Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to many supporters and parents, the boys baseball scoreboard and seating updates were constructed and managed outside of the appropriate district protocol and oversight several years ago [my note: 2001, according to this article].  Upon closer investigation, the District also learned that the seating addition didn’t meet existing laws and zoning ordinances, and was not physically safe. Our goal is to work together with boosters in the future to ensure any facility improvements made on school property are safe, equitable and meet existing zoning ordinances.
Though we cannot change what has happened in the past, we recognize that there are some systematic issues that need to be addressed at the district level and are making every effort to ensure that our teams, boosters and district do not have to face similar situations in the future. To that end, we have begun building better leadership structures and increased accountability across the board within our interscholastic athletic program; this includes steps to improve leadership, communication, and inadequate facilities, along with improving hiring practices and creating a standard code of conduct for all coaches.
Here is a snippet of the Faux News/ Blaze bally-hoo, followed by more of the factual contradiction.  "Fisking" the Blaze piece, let's start with the fact seating was stadium-style /chair type seating, not bleachers.  And the High School was not ordered to take down that seating, least of all by any federal agency.  And the reason for the take-down of the seating - yes, that did occur - was far more complex and nuanced, including being improperly located so as to be dangerous to spectators, and that it was not handicapped accessible.
Why a High School Was Ordered to Tear Down Its Brand-New Baseball Bleachers Will Likely Have Small-Gov’t Advocates Shaking Their Heads
The U.S Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has forced a school in Michigan to tear down a brand-new set of bleachers for its boys’ varsity baseball team because the new seating is nicer than the girls’ softball bleachers.
This next part is true; parent DID raise money for new seating and a new scoreboard.  The adjoining girls softball field is also going to be getting a new scoreboard.
The raised seating deck for the boys’ baseball team, which was paid for with money raised by parents, was put in place because fans who’d come to watch games at Plymouth High School in Canton, Mich., were having a hard time seeing the game through the chain-link fence WJBK-TV reported.
The parents installed the new bleachers themselves and even added a new scoreboard to the field, the station reported.
The seating is some six years old; it is not clear who authorized it to be built, without conforming to rules and regs for handicapped access, or who authorized that location, nor is it clear who ordered the stadium seats to be removed either. No one is talking about who actually made that decision.
The Blaze goes on to misreport and gin up outrage at the EEEEEVIL Feds:
But after an investigation by government officials, which was prompted by an anonymous complaint, the school was told it had to remove the new seating because it was “no longer equal” to the adjacent girls’ softball bleachers, which have yet to get a makeover of their own.
Further, government officials said, the new boys’ bleachers were not sufficiently handicap-accessible.
The school agreed to tear down the new bleachers after government officials issued a citation.
Plymouth High School superintendent Michael Meissen said the school will hold onto the new bleachers until they can come up with a plan that adheres to strict government rules and is “fair to everyone,” WJBK-TV reported.
Here is where the story hits the rhubarb of factual deficiency again.  Yes, there was an anonymous complaint - presumably the Dept. of Education's Civil Rights department knows who complained, but aren't talking.  And there were other problems to address besides spectator seating, including field time for the girls La Crosse team and other issues.  The school was advised about their problems with compliance under Title IX, and solutions were negotiated.  The school was NOT ordered to remove the seating; that solution came from the school district, along with some other problems being addressed.  There did not seem to be any pressure from the U.S. Dept. of Education to make the changes immediately, only a request that they comply with treating their female students fairly, as the law requires, within a reasonable time framework.

A writer on sports topics at Forbes did a better job of fact checking than 'the Blaze' (no surprise).
The Government Did Not Force A High School To Tear Out Its Baseball Seats
I may already be too late to quell the outrage — or at least funnel it in the right direction — regarding the baseball boosters of Plymouth High School in suburban Detroit having to tear out seats it bought and installed on their own dime and time. But I want to correct one big whopper of a mistake that is bouncing its way across the rage-o-sphere: the federal government did NOT order the seats torn out as a remedy for a Title IX gender equity violation.
It’s just like how the federal government doesn’t tell a college violating Title IX that it has to cut the men’s wrestling program – under Title IX, it ensures that men and women have equal athletic opportunities. However, cuts in men’s sports have happened during the 42 years of Title IX, so there is a subset of people who believe it’s been responsible for a war on males. That subset is ready to pounce on any “evidence” that another shot in this War on Men’s Sports has been fired (while ignoring football’s role in squeezing out opportunities for males in other sports).
On March 28, the local Fox television station in Detroit provided some fuel for outrage. It reported that after boosters installed a seating deck and a scoreboard at the Plymouth High baseball field, a complaint came into the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights that there might be a Title IX violation because similar work wasn’t done at school’s softball field. At one point, the report notes Plymouth-Canton Community Schools “agreed to take the seats down” to be in Title IX compliance.
Except that according to the investigative report on the complaint, which wasn’t quoted in the Fox Detroit story (and was about equality of facilities in general, not just about the seats and scoreboard), the district wasn’t asked to tear anything down — it was asked to build up. From the Department of Education’s report dated Oct. 31, 2013, which took a complete look at the district’s athletics programs and facilities for boys and girls:
If booster clubs provide benefits and services to athletes of one sex that are greater than what the district is capable of providing to athletes of the other sex, then the district must take action to ensure that benefits and services are equivalent for both sexes. …
The District has signed the enclosed resolution agreement, which, once implemented, will fully address the information obtained during the investigation in accordance with Title IX. The agreement requires the District to: renovate the School’s varsity softball field to include a scoreboard and seating equivalent to what is provided at the School’s varsity baseball field; and provide the School’s girls’ lacrosse team with access to an on-campus practice facility equivalent to that provided to the boys’ lacrosse team.
However, because it’s a lot more fun to say the big, bad ol’ government is oppressing people, the Narrative (there’s always a Narrative) quicklyestablished that the feds told the boosters to tear out the seats (or as often misreported, bleachers).
I don't fully understand why it is that conservatives are so willing to deliberately ignore facts and truth, or why they seem driven by such angry hatred towards groups of people they (incorrectly) perceive as both 'other' and 'enemy', but it has come to define the political partisanship of the right wing to a degree which, so far as my reading of history has progressed, is virtually unprecedented in our national history.  It is destructive, it is toxic, and it must be actively resisted by the center and left to the extreme of our energy resources, especially by vigorous fact checking and sharing of the truth and objective reality in which we live.  We also need frequently and routinely to underline the benefits of those actions taken by the more liberal among us, like the benefits of Title IX, which the radical right chooses to ignore or deny, or lie.

No comments:

Post a Comment