(NEW YORK CITY) December 20th, 2022- Over the past 22 months, the VIS Advocates have been hard at work using their voices to advocate for change and equity for young girls and women in sport. Today, their work shines through as The Fair Play for Women Act is formally introduced to the House and Senate.
In 2021, VOICEINSPORT and VOICEINSPORT Foundation Founder and CEO Stef Strack traveled around the world listening to young girls and women in sport, seeking to understand the challenges they were facing. Sad to discover situations comparable to what she herself experienced at that age–lack of representation and poor enforcement of Title IX—she created the VIS Advocate Program for women athletes in high school and college that are passionate about changing more than just the game. VIS Advocates receive formal training on Title IX through the digital VOICEINSPORT Platform, which they then use to evaluate the compliance of their own schools.
With VIS Advocacy Chapters popping up at schools across the country, the program has conducted over 150 evaluations, coming to the same conclusion time and time again—schools are not in compliance with Title IX. With their voices at the forefront, the young women in the VIS Advocacy program have refused to sit back and wait; instead, they are leading the charge in bringing about the changes they wish to see.
Since the program’s launch 22 months ago, VIS Advocates have become a leading voice in Washington D.C. They’ve spent tremendous amounts of time advocating for their rights under Title IX, hosting 6 Capitol Hill Day briefings and sharing stories of inequities with over 30 House and Senate member offices. The VIS Advocates have also gained the support of organizations, nonprofits and player associations across the sports industry who have signed the #moreVISforIX pledge that launched in 2021.
Though not always easy, the Advocates’ dedication to their cause proved successful when they ultimately gained the support of U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D-N.C.-12) in 2021 and, a short time later, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). With both a House and a Senate member in their corner, the VIS Advocates were ready to move forward. Over the next 10 months, the young women worked closely with Strack and Senator Murphy’s office to draft legislative text.
“It’s no secret there’s still a huge gap in resources and opportunities between women’s sports and men’s sports – it’s a Title IX violation hiding in plain sight. Our bill would ensure sports programs for women and girls finally get the support they’re entitled to, increase transparency and accountability of schools and athletic associations, and make sure athletes are aware of their Title IX rights and how to exercise them. I’m proud to be working with Representatives Adams, Trahan, and Bonamici on this important piece of legislation to fulfill the promise of Title IX in college and K-12 athletics” - Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
On June 23, 2022, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, 17 VIS Advocates and Strack stood on the steps of Capitol Hill and announced the Fair Play for Women Act. While exponential progress has been made in the 50 years since Title IX’s establishment, opportunities for girls and women in sport today are still far from equitable. Girls have approximately 1.13 million fewer opportunities than boys to participate in high school sports, and 86% of NCAA institutions offer a disproportionate number of opportunities to male athletes (WSF). This bill would serve to strengthen Title IX education, enforcement and compliance at both the K-12 and college levels.
Over the next several months, as the final legislative text was written and polished, these 3 focuses remained at the center. The VIS Advocates were an integral part of every step of the process, and along the way gained the support of 2 additional House members: U.S. Representatives Lori Trahan (D-Mass.-03) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.-01). VIS Advocacy Program leader Sydney Moore, a volleyball player at Cornell University, was even awarded the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award at the 2022 ESPYs for her work towards this cause.
“The work I've done to contribute to the Bill, the panels I've led to discuss equity in sport, and even just the space I've taken up on Capitol Hill is all going towards showing the next generation of athletes that they can do the same and that their voice matters. Through the introduction of this bill, we are actualizing the support and commitment the community has expressed for women athletes during this 50th anniversary year.” - Sydney Moore, VIS Advocate and Volleyball Player at Cornell University
The VIS Advocates have stepped up to learn the ins and outs of Title IX, and demonstrated an unwillingness to compromise on the attainment of rights they are entitled to. These young women have witnessed firsthand the power that their voices hold, and are enacting truly meaningful change that will positively impact the future of girls and women in sport.
“Leading the team that first formulated the VIS Title IX Legislative proposal was an amazing opportunity to research, write, and present on Title IX. Knowing my voice is now a force in government policy pushes me to do more and keep bringing change to gender equality.” - Molly Dreher, VIS Advocate and Cross Country/Track & Field Runner at Saint Mary’s College of California
Today’s introduction of the Bill is only the beginning of groundbreaking change to come. In the coming months, the VIS Advocates will continue to work hard to gain bipartisan support from House and Senate members. Through the Fair Play for Women Act, the VIS Advocates are not only calling upon legislatures, but upon the entire sports industry—including but not limited to media, brands, schools, and athletic conferences—to enact change. Without a unified support system, true equity cannot exist. Let’s build upon the spark that the VIS Advocates have ignited and use our VOICES as fire to burn the inequities still facing young girls and women around the country today.
“The FAIR PLAY FOR WOMEN ACT will fundamentally strengthen TITLE IX through better education, stronger enforcement and greater transparency in data and reporting. We are proud of the role that our young VIS Advocates have played in creating this important step towards equality in sport for all. With the VOICES of the girls at the center, this Bill will spark conversations which will positively impact girls and women in sport for generations to come.” -Stef Strack, Founder & CEO VOICEINSPORT & VOICEINSPORT FOUNDATION
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About VOICEINSPORT Foundation
VOICEINSPORT Foundation is a global 501c3 Non-Profit Organization on a mission to close the gap for girls and women in sport through innovative sport science research, educational content and an advocacy program for high school and college women athletes called the VIS Advocate Program. Founded in 2020 by Executive and Advocate Stef Strack. For more information please visit www.voiceinsportfoundation.org and check them out on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
VOICEINSPORT, the global sports company, provides a community based platform for digital services in mental health, nutrition, sport science and mentoring from pro athletes to keep girls and women in sport. The VOICEINSPORT membership comes with free access to original articles written by women athletes, weekly podcasts, advocacy tools to drive change and a community forum. Paid services include a mentoring platform designed to increase the visibility to pro & collegiate athlete role models and access to both clinical & non-clinical sessions with the top 80 experts in sport psychology, sport nutrition and women’s health. Founded in 2019, VOICEINSPORT is based in NYC and is self-funded by sports industry Executive and AdvocateStef Strack. Visit voiceinsport.com for the latest company news and follow @voiceinsport onInstagram,TikTok, Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn.
Contact: Jessica Pidgeon