Sen. Birch Bayh, author of Title IX law, dies at 91
Former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, who championed the Title IX federal law banning discrimination against women in college admissions and sports, died at his home Thursday at 91.
Bayh was surrounded by family at his home in Easton, Md., when he died shortly after midnight from pneumonia, his family said in a statement. His son, Evan, followed him into politics and became Indiana’s governor and a senator.
The liberal Democrat had a back-slapping, humorous campaigning style that helped him win three narrow elections to the Senate starting in 1962, at a time when Republicans won Indiana in four of the five presidential elections. Bayh’s hold on the seat ended with a loss to Dan Quayle during the 1980 Ronald Reagan-led Republican landslide.
Bayh sponsored a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 18 amid protests over the Vietnam War and another amendment allowing the replacement of vice presidents.
But it was his work to pass the landmark Title IX law that solidified his legacy. He wrote and was the lead sponsor of the 1972 law, which prohibits gender discrimination in education – known as Title IX for its section in the Higher Education Act.
The law’s passage came at a time when women earned fewer than 10 percent of all medical and law degrees, and fewer than 300,000 high school girls – one in 27 – played sports. Now, women make up more than half of those earning bachelor’s and graduate degrees, and more than 3 million high school girls – one in two – play sports.