Throughout its 50 year history, Title IX has inspired wave after wave of women’s activism. A relatively short addition to the Education Amendments Act of 1972, Title IX states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” While the legislation covers a broad swath of American educational life, from K-12 to higher education, activists and lawmakers alike have continually approached the policy through the flashpoints of sports and sexual harassment.
Title IX: Activism On and Off the Field immerses visitors in the spaces shaped most profoundly by the legislation and reveals the crucial work of activists in demanding that their institutions live up to the law’s promises. The exhibition features images, objects, and documents drawn from New-York Historical’s Women’s Sports Foundation and Billie Jean King’s archives. It also spotlights personal items held by those involved in the passage and protection of Title IX, including protest signs, a sweatshirt worn to the Yale University women’s crew protest, a fundraising poster for the first sexual harassment in education case, and ephemera documenting the rise of professional women athletes in popular culture. Along the way, the exhibition addresses how ideas about sex, gender, and identity have shifted over Title IX’s lifetime, with contemporary print and news media documenting the legislation’s more recent inclusion of LBGTQ, trans, and non-binary students, newer ideas about consent, and the changed cultural landscape resulting from this legislation. Curated by the Center for Women’s History.