SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Western New England University School of Law Review (WNE) held a deeper discussion about Title IX’s success, its flaws, and how it should evolve, through a virtual symposium.

The symposium titled, “Past, Present, and Moving Forward: 50 years of Title IX” included experts from diverse disciplines. This symposium aimed to provide an overview of Title IX and the 50-year history of the law.

In addition to discussing the current state and future prospects of Title IX, the symposium analyzed the impacts Title IX has on our everyday lives. A key goal of the symposium was to build knowledge and create an informed, respectful, and robust discussion about Title IX inclusions, exclusions, and developments.

Former Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court and attorney Joette Katz gave opening remarks and a keynote presentation at the event. Currently, the Business Litigation Practice Group at Shipman & Goodwin has attorney Katz as a partner. Attorney Katz served as an Associate Justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court for roughly 500 opinions and 2,500 case hearings before joining Shipman & Goodwin. 

Among such views, Attorney Katz is renowned for having a significant influence on LGBTQIA+ and educational rights. A respected and significant lawyer, Attorney Katz is praised for her contributions to the legal profession. She brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise from her illustrious legal career and service.

Two panel discussions followed Attorney Katz’s talk on Title IX, which examined Title IX more closely: “Title IX in the Making-Exemptions, Challenges, and Limitations”, and “Moving Forward after 50 years-Solutions for Expansion and Inclusion”.

Altogether, scholars, activists, and practitioners participated in the panel. 22News attended the event to speak with law students that organized the symposium and experts on their thoughts on Title IX.

“I think we sort of forget how close in time the inclusion of women from sports and higher education is and so I think it is important for all of us to understand what Title IX is because I think a lot of us don’t,” said Jane Kundl, 3rd-year WNE Law School student. “That sort of empowers us to have the knowledge that there is a legal framework that we can call upon.”

“I think it really helps to protect students on campus, which is something we think needs to be talked about. Give students the education they need behind Title IX,” added Victoria Mosley, a 3rd-year WNE Law School student.

As a result of Title IX legislation, sexist discrimination is eliminated in education and all students are to be treated equally. From athletics and admission to housing and sexual harassment, it provides extensive protections. Title IX has also been a means of protection for gender minorities including women, LGBTQ people, and beyond.

“Was really a dramatic and pivotal moment for federal law to really ensure there is an enforcement mechanism for the equality requirements that extend throughout schools as well as other federally funded educational institutions,” expressed Jennifer Levi, Western New England Professor of Law.

But flaws can be found in Title IX. “The fact that Title IX is only written in terms of sex discrimination leaves it vulnerable to blind spots when it comes to the intertwining of race and disability,” explained Erin Buzuvis, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

The symposium brought a greater understanding of factors that could further evolve Title IX, like further work with gender minorities within schools. Levi says there needs to be a curriculum in all schools that signals to students the full importance of inclusion. “This includes full equal education opportunities, additional training across all of the teachers and staff that interact with students, and more robust mechanisms,” said Levi. “Just so many things to do, to really ensure that everybody has an opportunity to learn.”

In June, the U.S. Department of Education proposed changes to its Title IX Regulations mainly focusing on restoring protections for sexual harassment, assault, and sex-based discrimination. These changes have yet to be finalized.

One proposed change indicates that gender identity and sexual orientation wouldn’t exclude a student from educational activities and programs. “LGBTQ youth have been targeted for violence in schools, harassment, excluded from school programs, and so its really rich to have this deep source of protections for students,” said Levi, who has worked on several lawsuits on behalf of transgender students. “It’s an important way to direct schools to make sure the policies they do have in place ensure the full equal inclusion of LGBTQ youth.”

“The hope is that these rights will make that compliance obligation more clear so that there would be fewer instances where OCR has to get involved and do enforcement,” said Buzuvis.

This symposium opened the eyes of many to Title IX’s varied legal aspects.