Title IX champion to speak on landmark Supreme Court case

Former girls’ basketball coach Roderick Jackson will be on campus Wednesday (June 18) to speak about his involvement in a groundbreaking Supreme Court case on gender discrimination and the right of citizens to speak up about it.

Roderick Jackson
Roderick Jackson

“Standing Up in the Face of Adversity: The Story of Coach Roderick Jackson's Journey Toward a Landmark Title IX Supreme Court Decision” will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. in 111 Business Administration Building, followed by a book-signing until 1 p.m.

The event is presented by the Sport Management Faculty Fund, the College of Business Administration, the Bowling Green branch of the American Association of University Women and the Fund for the Study of Sport and Diversity.

Jackson has been a teacher, coach and public speaker in some capacity for more than 20 years. His odyssey began when, as a basketball coach at Ensley High School in Birmingham, Ala., he spoke up about disparities in the facilities and opportunities for the girls’ and boys’ teams.

Soon, he began receiving negative evaluations and was fired as the girls’ coach in May 2001. Although a new administration gave him the coaching job back in December 2003 on an interim basis, Jackson still lost income.

Jackson sued the Birmingham Board of Education in U.S. District Court in Alabama, saying he was a victim of retaliation for complaining about discrimination, and that he was protected from it under Title IX, a statute that bans gender discrimination in federally funded programs. The district court dismissed his complaint, ruling that Title IX does not allow a private right of action and that Jackson wasn’t a part of the class Title IX was created to protect.

After losing at every level in the courts, Jackson, with the help of the National Women's Law Center, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In March 2005, he won a 5-4 ruling that allowed school personnel to speak up on behalf of their students without fear of retaliation. The case became exemplary and raised awareness about continued gender discrimination across the country.

He is still fighting the remnants of retaliation as he strives to improve conditions not only for girls in the Ensley and Jackson-Olin areas, but throughout the Birmingham metropolitan region.

“Coach Roderick Jackson is an incredible example of a true leader,” said Dr. Erianne Weight, sport management. “He fought for what was right, stood up in the face of tremendous adversity, and never ever gave up. The landmark Title IX case he brought to the Supreme Court has set a precedent that has and will continue to bring justice to many brave individuals fighting for equality. He is a giant among men, and it is an honor to welcome him to our campus.”

June 16, 2008