Washington A divided Bush administration commission considering changes to Title IX debated procedural issues and approved several modest recommendations Wednesday, setting the stage for a combative finish as the most controversial ideas are presented today.
In a key development, commissioners who favor maintaining the law's current standards won the right to have dissenting views included in the final report that will be sent to Education Secretary Rod Paige next month.
"There's tremendous passion on this issue," said commissioner Julie Foudy, a member of the U.S. women's national soccer team. "To not represent both sides of the passion is a disservice of what we're going to give to the secretary."
The Commission on Opportunity in Athletics began discussing 24 recommendations, but the 15-member panel spent the first hour of the two-day meeting debating its own rules.
Foudy and Donna de Varona expect a majority of the panel to vote to scale back standards in the 31-year-old Title IX gender equity law that has exponentially increased participation in women's sports. They were upset the initial procedures did not call for minority views to be included in the report, a rule Foudy called a "gag order."
After lengthy debate, the commissioners agreed their final report will include both viewpoints on any recommendation not reached by consensus or majority vote.
Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in programs that receive federal funding.