Monday, April 25, 2005

Action Alert from the Women's Sports Foundation

Female Athletes need you to act now!
Just a reminder, in case you haven’t sent an e-mail to your Congressperson yet.
We really need for you to do this! Two years ago, we were able to defeat Department of Education (DOE) efforts to weaken Title IX. Unfortunately, the situation is different this time around. Without public notice or comment, the deed has been done. Because of a March 17 directive from the Department of Education, colleges now have a way to stop adding women's sports teams even though women's participation is significantly lower than men's - just by administering an e-mail survey. Overturning an existing action is much more difficult than stopping one in the first place. Legislation will be required. In order for our legislative initiative to be successful, your Congressperson must hear that his or her constituents are distressed about the current DOE action. Only then will he or she be likely to sign on as a cosponsor of the legislation or vote for it. So, e-mailing, calling or visiting your Congressperson is a critical first step. (Don't use snail mail because it will never get there due to anthrax screening procedures!)So, we need you to help in two ways: (1) Please send your e-mail now. The link below will take you to an automated site...plug in your zip code/identity as a constituent, personalize if you want and it's done. (2) Pass this e-mail on to every friend you have who cares about investing in the health and future success of girls through sports. Ask your friends to help. Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D.Chief Executive OfficerWomen's Sports Foundation
Write to your Senator
Help us get 1 million girls physically active by joining our GoGirlGo! Campaign! Visit to find out how you can help and why it's critical that we get girls moving! Founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, the Women's Sports Foundation is a national charitable educational organization seeking to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. The Foundation's Participation, Education, Advocacy, Research and Leadership programs are made possible by gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations. Get to know the Women's Sports Foundation!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Where's the Justice in "Justice Sunday"? (From NARAL Pro-Choice America)

The Reverend Katherine Ragsdale on Frist's shameful ploy to use religion to pack the courts

This Sunday at 7:00 pm EDT, Senator Bill Frist is partnering with radical conservatives like James Dobson and Tony Perkins to launch "Justice Sunday" - a national telecast to churches across the country which claims that opposing the far-right's "nuclear option" is tantamount to discrimination against "people of faith."

NARAL Pro-Choice America asked me - a lifelong Christian and Episcopal priest - what I thought about "Justice Sunday." Frankly, I don't recognize the God Senator Frist and company speak of.

The God I know does not ask the government to impose one person or group's moral beliefs on all others. The God I know would not have us pit believers against one another in the service of a purely political agenda.

The God I know is less concerned with our bedrooms than with seeing our faithfulness and love reflected in our budget, our foreign policy, our social and economic policies.

Sen. Frist and others certainly have the right, even the responsibility, to let their judgment about who and what they support be informed by their own values and faith commitments. You and I may wish that those values more closely mirrored what we understand to be spiritual and democratic principles. Nonetheless, as irrational and unfaithful as some of their positions may appear to others of us, they have the right to them. What they do not have the right to do is to impose them on us all - and most certainly not to destroy our democratic system in order to do it.

Frist and Dobson's "Christian" objection is not to the filibuster, but to its outcome in this case - the refusal to confirm some judges. They argue that these judges are Christians, and are being opposed because of their faith. I'd argue that we're opposing these judges because of their policies and history, and many of us oppose those policies and that history precisely because we are faithful, spiritual people of many religions.

These judges have histories of rulings that dilute the rights and protections afforded to various categories of disadvantaged people (elderly, poor, people of color, disabled, immigrants, women, gay and lesbian). People within many religious traditions are charged to care especially for just such people.

Are you a person of faith?
Tell Senator Frist that you have religious values AND you support a moderate, independent judiciary that respects the religious freedom upon which this country was built and will continue to oppose any attempt to impose one group's beliefs on others. Send the message to Senator Frist, and we'll send a copy to your senators, too:

A message to Senator Frist from pro-choice people of faith...I am a person of faith, and I oppose the nuclear option. I am outraged that you would manipulate the Christian faith to alter 200-year-old Senate rules with the goal of rubber-stamping all of President Bush's judicial nominees - many of whose records indicate they would use the bench to force their religious views on others. I urge you to unequivocally oppose the use of the "nuclear option."
Send it here!

Although our opponents like Sen. Frist may continue to use religion to divide our country, you and I can show America that it's okay to speak out against the injustice being spread by the Bush Administration.

~ The Reverend Katherine RagsdaleNARAL Pro-Choice America board member

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Title IX Victory

Let's hear it for Walter Dellinger -- who argued this case on behalf of the good guys. There are several awful fights still ahead of us but that's all the more reason to celebrate our victories. Dellinger, a veteran of these fights, did another great job. Read on for the National Women's Law Center's report. Supreme Court Protects All Who Stand Up for Title IX Rights, Including Coaches and Teachers
Even though recent attacks on Title IX are cause for serious concern, last week the National Women’s Law Center fought off one major threat to Title IX by scoring a key victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. In Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, the Court decided that individuals who protest sex discrimination may sue to challenge retaliation if their schools punish them as a result. This critically important Title IX retaliation case represents a huge win for women and girls and will enhance fundamental protectionsunder numerous civil rights laws.
In this case, Roderick Jackson, a teacher and girls’ basketball coach, was fired from his coaching position for protesting the unequal treatment of his team at Ensley High School in Birmingham, Alabama. The inequities Mr. Jackson and his team faced were dramatic: unlike the boys’ team, for example, the girls’ team had to practice in an old, unheated, non-regulation gym and had no access to funds earned at their games to pay for game officials and equipment.
Instead of fixing the problems, school administrators stripped Mr. Jackson of his coaching duties. When Mr. Jackson sued to challenge his firing, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his complaint. The Supreme Court has now overturned the Eleventh Circuit’s decision.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Jackson makes clear that civil rights laws by their very nature include a prohibition on retaliation in order to be effective. The decision will affect not only Title IX but also laws that bar discrimination on the bases of race, disability, and age. The case also recognizes that educators are often in the best position to speak out about sex discrimination against students. Congratulations Mr. Jackson!

Friday, April 01, 2005

RED LAKE TEEN: NOT ALONE IN HIS DESPAIR -- From the Public Education Network

The recent murders at Red Lake Indian Reservation highlight the problems that American Indian teenagers have been quietly suffering in greaternumbers than most adolescents: suicide, violence, depression andpregnancy. By themselves, the numbers for the Red Lake Indian Reservationare staggering. A state survey conducted last year of 56 ninth-gradersshowed that 81 percent of the girls and 43 percent of the boys hadconsidered suicide. Almost half the girls said they'd actually tried tokill themselves, reports Deborah Hastings. Twenty percent of boys said thesame -- numbers about triple the rate statewide. The Minnesota survey ofRed Lake students said they assaulted other classmates and used morealcohol and drugs than other students across the state. Nationwide figuresshow that American Indian teenagers commit suicide at three times thenational rate; are involved in alcohol-related arrests at twice thenational average, and die in alcohol-related incidents at 17 times thenational average. They are third-highest in teen pregnancies, behindHispanics and blacks. ''Only the most gifted students can overcome thisstuff," said Bill Lawrence, publisher of the Native American Press-OjibweNews.

For more news about public education see PEN’s weekly newsblast at