Schoolgirls Can Find Protection in Title IX

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In this intro from "Hey, Shorty!" Joanne Smith recalls how the rape of an 8-year-old catalyzed the co-authors' work to end violence against girls in public schools. The book offers a manual on applying Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination in education.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Anasia, a 7-year-old with a light-brown complexion, slim body, bright, black marble eyes and a vibrant smile, zealously took the lead in clearing the gym of boys and men when it was our time to play.

"All right boys, pack it up," she yelled through the bullhorn one day. "It's 4 o'clock and this is our space now. Please get dressed downstairs in the locker room."

The guys ignored her at first. Before I, as her program supervisor, could move in to help out, Mr. Al Vann, a neatly dressed, older black gentleman whom I had never met but often saw coaching local, elite players, and whose daughter was an exceptional player at Duke University, stopped his instruction and shouted, "You heard them, pack it up."

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The men and boys alike did just that and followed him out of the gym as we all high-fived Anasia for clearing the gym and proceeded to set up.

Mr. Vann was an ally; he worked with our group, Girls for Gender Equity, for many years and deserved every bit of respect he was given.

Soon the mere sight of Anasia had the boys and men clearing the courts. Everything was working as planned. The Y supported our initiatives while we helped to boost their enrollment of girls under 12.

In two short months we recruited 55 girls and eight female coaches as volunteers. Everyone, including parents, responded well to all our programming and events. Having created a space where our girls were blossoming, we felt proud of the work we were doing.

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