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Marjorie Snyder, Senior Advisor of Research at Women’s Sports Foundation, was a freshman on her college’s tennis team when Title IX was passed into law in 1972. With a front-row seat, Snyder got to see first-hand how the new law was changing the landscape of sports. Now, 50 years later, Snyder has been able to see how Title IX has evolved, and why there still is a long way to go.

“I happened to be somebody who's old enough that I was a freshman in college when Title IX passed and I saw the immediate things that happened,” Snyder said. “And for me, it was interesting because it wasn't necessarily all that great.”

Title IX was a legislative law that banned discrimination based on sex in federally-funded institutions, like high school and college. Snyder, who was a tennis player at a small Division III college that would compete against now-acclaimed colleges like the University of Michigan, stated that scholarships were not given out to female athletes. Once Title IX was passed, colleges were able to recruit top players with the promise of scholarships.

Decades later, the mission to provide equal opportunities to all athletes is just as prevalent as it was back then, only now, we have more ways than just one to take action.

Demand IX is a national campaign led by the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, the Women’s Sports Foundation, the National Women’s Law Center, individuals — like me — and other organizations who care about fairness for everyone in education,” said the head of the Title IX Coalition Deborah Larkin. “Many individuals and organizations have been working hard to achieve fairness for everyone over the past 50 years — but we’re not there yet.”

The Demand IX initiative all started when Snyder and Larkin got to talking about how many other organizations were creating their own unique campaigns around the upcoming 50th anniversary of Title IX. The goal for the other companies was to celebrate the law while bringing attention to what still needed to happen, so Larkin decided to join the pack and create her own campaign. The only question was how.

Snyder explained that Larkin came across a petition online that was geared towards helping Afghan girls get an education. Larkin saw the “hundreds of thousands” signatures that supported the cause and knew what she had to do.

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“[Deborah] thought that given all these disparate things that people were doing around Title IX, it would be great if there was one sort of unifying thing that everyone could do and integrate it into the work they were already doing,” Synder said. “That's what we want everybody to do — somehow integrate Demand IX into signing a pledge.”

You might be asking yourself why it is so important. The answer is Snyder and Larkin want the signatures to stand as a collective voice for making change and making sure Title IX gets enforces, not just for sports, but around sexual harassment, education, science, pregnancy, and all the other areas Title IX actually covers.

To combat the still-systemic barriers, Demand IX is ultimately targeting high school and college students to educate them about Title IX because, unfortunately, so few students and student-athletes are included in understanding what it is and why it's important.

“One of the things is [high school and college students] don't really know what Title IX is, but they sure as heck know when something isn't fair,” Snyder said. “And so as soon as they can see that something isn't fair, then we have to be able to give them the tools to do something about it.

Just Like Demand IX — and everyone else’s mission for equal rights — together, we can advocate for the protection and enforcement of Title IX, and now, more than ever, is the time to do so. Be a part of history and join the fight for equality and fairness for everyone by signing the pledge.

“I signed it because I personally know the benefits of Title IX in my own life and I want to make sure that no girl following in my footsteps has to face the same barriers that I and many others faced,” Snyder said. “It is the promise of Title IX, but we aren't there yet.”

Photo credits: National Women’s Law Center, Billie Jean King’s Instagram