Title IX: Four decades of fighting for equality

I worked on a team to produce a 40th anniversary series examining the wide-ranging effects of Title IX, which is most well-known for clearing the way for women in high school and college sports. I wrote the third day’s lead News story, discussing Title IX’s non-athletic components. It was published Sept. 11, 2012. This series won a Chicago Lisagor award in the education reporting category.

“Title IX means much more than sports equality”
By Tara Garcia Mathewson

Chrystal Stokes

Because of Title IX, young moms like Chrystal Stokes have access to services at their public schools for pregnant and parenting students. Stokes got six weeks of maternity leave with a tutor after she had her daughter, Nevaeh.

Chrystal Stokes, 19, found out she was pregnant during her sophomore year at Elgin High School.

She had her daughter, Nevaeh, on Oct. 30, 2010. Stokes took six weeks of maternity leave, completing assignments and staying up-to-date on her class work with the help of an at-home tutor, and then she returned to finish her junior and senior years. She plans to start Elgin Community College in January.

The reason Stokes got six weeks of excused absences from Elgin High and the reason the school sent a tutor to her home every day is because of Title IX. The groundbreaking legislation is about a lot more than women in sports; it also lays the foundation for equity between the genders in access to higher education, career education, employment, learning environment, sexual harassment, standardized testing, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — courses, and education for pregnant and parenting students.

Elgin Area School District U-46 has a Teen Parents Protocol standardizing the response to pregnant students districtwide. When Stokes told her algebra teacher she was pregnant, she was directed to Patty Kenyon. Kenyon, the high school’s nurse, serves as the point person for the district’s pregnant and parenting services offered to the teen, including weekly meetings with other teen parents.

It was in these meetings Stokes found out how to get her LINK card for state benefits and where to apply for assistance from the Department of Human Services.

“Everything was falling into place,” Stokes said. “It just helped me get on my feet.”

Read the full story and find related articles in the series here.

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