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Title IX speaker shares stories of gender injustice

Community members attended the presentation ‘Title IX @ 50 Years: So What? Now What?’ Photo by Nate Lilla / Antelope Staff

UNK continues to celebrate Title IX’s 50-year anniversary with another event. The Office of Graduate Studies and Academic Outreach invited JoAnne Owens-Nauslar, Title IX national speaker, to give a presentation entitled “Title IX @ 50 Years: So What? Now What?”

Jada Ruff, a graduate assistant with the Office of Graduate Studies and Academic Outreach, spoke about the focus of the event.

“We want people to know or learn more about Title IX, like where we started, where we’re at and where we hope to go for the future,” Ruff said. “It’s not sex discrimination, and it’s not just sports, but a lot of people have the preconceived notion of it just being those things.”

The event held two different sessions, and it was accessible through Zoom. The student session was held between 3-4 p.m. and the faculty session was held between 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Nebraskan Student Union’s Ponderosa Room.

JoAnne Owens-Nauslar spoke about what inspired her to be a part of Title IX and organizations that are similar.

“I am not looking for a fight,” Owens-Nauslar said. “I am about parity and inequities. There are a lot of these scenarios around us, and I am looking for what I consider injustices.”

She began her presentation with a focus on the history of the 14th Amendment and the 19th Amendment, in addition to the history of Title IX and its beginning. She also focused on what she considered “trailblazers” for different movements and work on injustices, specifically in gender-inequality.

Owens-Nauslar shared instances through her last 50 years of direct injustices she faced in the athletic world and in her education career.

“I won the first Lincoln marathon in 1978, and the headlines were ‘Female finishes in the top 15,’ and it was about a male runner who ran with his female dog,” Owens-Nauslar said.

Her struggles started in high school. She played sports, but they were not sanctioned by the high school activities association, and she compared them to a recreational sport. She showed her letterman jacket and explained that for men, after a certain amount of hours, they were given their jacket. For women, even after all the required hours were met, they were “allowed to pay for” their jacket.

This was her first reason for trying to make a difference.

“I have about four pieces for why this is the horse I am going to ride,” Owens-Nauslar said. “The non-ability to participate, the whole issue of pay and pay equity, the dress code and the energy. Through experiences that even I directly faced, even all those years ago, you have to be passionate about something if you’re going to make change.”

To finish her presentation, she focused on the future of athletics.

She redefined success with 10 different options for people to approach life and how they can be present and active in their community.

“Be knowledgeable, do your research, figure out what your voice is, be believable, know their story, know the other side of the story and take that weapon and make it your shield,” Owen-Nauslar said.

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JILL SMITH, Reporter
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