Obama: Title IX ‘One of the Greatest Transformations’ in Society

By Penny Starr | May 29, 2014 | 5:42 PM EDT

President Barack Obama hosted a 'Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit' on May 29, 2014 at the White House. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama hosted a “Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit” at the White House on Thursday where he called for action on sports safety and called the Title IX law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded public schools as “one of the greatest transformations” that has taken place in society.

“One of the greatest transformations I think in our society has been how young women have been finally given the opportunity because of Title IX, and now you see just unbelievable women athletes who are getting the same exposure and experience and outlets for sports all across the country, and Malia and Sasha are part of that generation" Obama said.

“As a parent, Michelle and I have always encouraged our girls to play sports,” Obama said to an invited crowd of lawmakers, scientists, researchers, representatives from the military and major sports franchises and young athletes and their families.

“They took for granted -- of course, we’re playing sports,” Obama said. “And they played everything from soccer to basketball and tennis and track.

“So sports are important to our life as a family, just like they are for families all across the country,” Obama said.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.”

Discrimination covered under the law includes sexual harassment, failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics, and protection for pregnant students.

At the event, Obama cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics from “the most recent data that’s available” that show some 250,000 emergency room visits by young people with brain injuries “from sports or recreation.”

“Now, I say this not to scare people,” Obama said. “We want our kids participating in sports.

“I’d be much more troubled if young people were shying away from sports,” Obama said. “As parents, though, we want to keep them safe, and that means we have to have better information.  We have to know what these issues are.

“And the fact is, we don’t have solid numbers, and that tells me that at every level we’re all still trying to fully grasp what’s going on with this issue,” Obama said.

Earlier in the day, the White House distributed a fact sheet to the media detailing millions being committed to research and education focused on concussions. That includes $30 million from the Department of Defense and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to conduct clinical trials; $16 million for research at the National Institutes of Health and $10 million donated by New York Giants Vice President Steve Tisch for a sports brain program at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, on May 1, 2014, the Civil Rights division of the Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges that were being investigated for violations of Title IX as it relates to sexual violence and harassment complaints.

On Wednesday, the Huffington Post reported that five new schools had been added to the list.