Today has been declared “Title IX Day” in Illinois. It’s the 40th anniversary of Title IX of the Educational Equity Act of 1972 which banned discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded school in the United States.

Lt. Gov. Shelia Simon says though Title IX is best known for its impact on women’s sports, it opened new academic and employment opportunities for women and girls. “Title IX helped women get in the game not only in sports but in academic and professional pursuits,” Simon said. “It opened the door to gymnasiums and science labs, kept girls in school and on career path and put their dreams within reach.”

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Nationally, the number of high school girls participating in sports has risen tenfold in the last 40 years while participation in Illinois is up nearly 60 percent since 1989, the first year participation data was tracked by the Illinois High School Association. Prior to Title IX, tennis was the only sport sanctioned for girls’ statewide competition in Illinois. Today, girls’ teams compete in 15 sports ranging from badminton to basketball.

In college, Simon competed on the men’s indoor track team because there was no women’s team. The next year she was a member of the school’s inaugural women’s indoor team. She received All-American honors in the high jump and holds records at Wittenberg University in Ohio, where she studied as an undergraduate.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/