Nebraska Legislature Adopts Sex-Equity Bill Modeled

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Nebraska's legislators last week unanimously approved a bill prohibiting sex discrimination in education and employment in the state's public schools and colleges.

In a 43 to 0 vote, the unicameral legislature passed the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Education Act--LB628--modeled on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The new state law will "take up the slack" if the federal government reduces its efforts to enforce of sex equity in education, according to Sue Ellen Wall, a lobbyist for the Nebraska Coalition of Women, an advocacy group that promoted the bill.

Governor Charles Thone will sign the legislation, said Dale Siefkes, a research analyst for the education committee of the legislature.

"On a vote like this, he wouldn't dare not sign it," commented a lobbyist.

The new law specifically includes employment practices in all public educational institutions including the state's department of education--a provision that at the federal level is a matter of some dispute.

Current federal regulations governing Title IX, one of the main education laws barring sex discrimination in schools and colleges, include educational institutions' employees. But that interpretation of the law has been opposed by Education Secre-tary Terrel H. Bell and a number of U.S. senators.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue this spring in a case known as North Haven Board of Education v. Bell.

The Nebraska law bars discrimination on the basis of sex in all educational programs, extracurricular activities, research, and occupational training.

The sex-equity statute survived an attempt two weeks ago to amend it to exclude athletics. On that issue, it specifies "comparable opportunities" for boys and girls in interscholastic athletics.

The law does not mention intercollegiate athletics.--M.L.W.

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