Lisa Sieverts

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Congress enacted Title IX on June 23, 1972, and what it meant to me

Congress enacted Title IX on June 23, 1972

“Title IX laid waste to everything. It laid waste to ideas — men’s ideas of what women were capable of, but most importantly, women’s ideas about themselves.”

I was twelve years old when Title IX was enacted. I knew it had happened – I grew up in Washington, DC in a political household, so we knew and talked about legislation – but I don’t think it was personal for me at first.

Five years later, I was in high school. My best friend said, “I’m starting a girl’s cross-country track team and I want you to join me.” I’d never run anywhere at that point. Nor did I come from an athletic family. But I joined on principle: our high school had a boy’s cross-country team so it should have a girl’s team, too.

I ran cross-country during my last two years there. The joy I felt at developing strength and stamina in the company of friends was unexpected.

We just passed the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Looking back, I realize that Title IX changed my life. That high school experience running track has led to a lifetime of athleticism. I am, knock on wood, an exceptionally healthy 62-year-old. I lift weights, swim solo in large NH lakes, ride bicycles and ski.

But without Title IX to open my eyes to possibility, I never would have embarked on this active life. Thus, I am exceptionally grateful today to the people who worked to pass Title IX legislation in the United States in 1972.