Calif. Lawmaker Bashes Title IX in Front of Soccer Star Brandi Chastain

5 years ago

The 40th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law requiring gender equality in interscholastic athletics, has received considerable national coverage the past month or so. But when the California Assembly passed a measure in Sacramento on Monday recognizing the upcoming  anniversary, the event generated a bit of controversy.

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Despite the presence of Brandi Chastain, a former member of U.S. women's soccer team  who was being honored at the event, one assemblyman couldn't hide his disdain for the equal rights law.

"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 agitated Chastain who visibly recoiled while standing in the back of the room. The AP reported that despite raising her hand to object to the remarks, Chastain was denied a chance to speak because it wasn't a public hearing.

Fortunately, other lawmakers stepped up and rebutted Mr. Norby's assertions. My   representative, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, pointed out that the softball fields at the highschool where his daughter pitches pales in comparison to the boys' baseball diamond. "Equality is yet to be attained," Feuer said. 

Republican assemblyman Jim Silva also came to Chastain's defense. A former high school football coach, Silva said that he, too, once questioned providing more funding for female athletes. "Then, on March 18, 1978, my world completely switched," Silva said. "That was the day my daughter was born."

A comment by Susie DeLellis Petrucelli, a former collegiate soccer player, on the Women Talk Sports Facebook wall reads:

"Draft of a possible rebuttal -- With all due respect, Assemblyman Norby, is the irony lost on you that we are here in celebration of the fact that Title IX has weathered 40 years of attacks, legal or otherwise? Let us be specific, sir, about what you would prefer women should sacrifice? The same equipment and supplies as men's teams? The same scheduling of games and practice times? The same travel and per diem allowances? The same academic tutoring, locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities? The same medical and training facilities and services? The same housing and dining facilities and services? Or maybe just the same publicity?"

Another comment suggests Norby deserves a red card - a move I endorse

In the end, the measure passed 68 to 0, with 67 co-sponsors. The official bill text reads, "This measure would commemorate the 40th anniversary of Title IX on June 23, 2012, commend the movement toward increased equality and fair treatment of female athletes, and praise the goal of greater opportunities in sports for girls and young women in California."

Happy Anniversary Title IX.

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