Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of a piece of legislation that changed education in America forever.On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the Education Amendments of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act. It included the now celebrated Title IX, which reads in part: \u201cNo person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.\u201dThe significance of Title IX really can\u2019t be overemphasized: It changed just about everything, opening opportunities for all students \u2014 girls and boys \u2014 that previously hadn\u2019t existed.\u201cPrograms or activities\u201d that fall under the Title IX umbrella include state and local government departments and agencies, colleges, universities, vocational schools and all school systems that receive federal assistance. Even corporations and private businesses must comply with Title IX if they receive any federal funding or if they are \u201cprincipally engaged in the business of providing education, health care, housing, social services, or parks and recreation.\u201dTitle IX is probably most known for its impact on athletics and sports, but it has also affected career education, sexual harassment, the overall learning environment, standardized testing, scholarship opportunities, and employment.Students in school today have never known education, and in particular, sports education and participation, without Title IX protections. Girls on the soccer or lacrosse field, or those working towards a swimming or basketball scholarship don\u2019t find those things remarkable.But it wasn\u2019t always that way.According to the group TitleIX.Info, before 1972, only about 4% of girls played high school sports \u2014 the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE) puts it another way: Just 7% of all high school athletes were girls.The number of high school girls participating in sports has risen to nearly 50%, with girls making up about 41% of high school athletes and 42% of college athletes.This month, the NCWGE released a report, \u201cTitle IX at 40.\u201d The report notes:\u201cTitle IX has increased female participation in sports exponentially. In response to greater opportunities to play, the number of high school girls participating in sports has risen tenfold in the past 40 years. These gains demonstrate the key principle underlying the legislation: Women and girls have an equal interest in sports and deserve equal opportunities to participate.\u201dIn addition to the education, scholarship and employment benefits of Title IX, the positive impact of the legislation on women\u2019s health is worthy of note.Studies have shown high school athletes are significantly less likely to smoke or use drugs than non-athletes. And, adolescent female athletes have much lower rates of sexual activity and pregnancy.The health benefits extend well into adulthood. The NCWGE report says research has shown girls who play sports when they are young are less likely to be obese, and have a decreased risk of developing heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast cancer.Whether it was the intended by legislators or not, the results are in. Title IX has been a boon for women across the country and here in MIlford as well. And that\u2019s a good thing.