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Insights from an Expert: ATIXA’s Annual Conference Keynote Speaker Dr. Laura McGuire, Ed.D.

What does Title IX mean to you?

Title IX is endlessly fascinating, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. It is such a simple statement embedded in law, yet it has applicability in numerous and ever-evolving contexts. We see how far we have come and know how far we have yet to go. In some ways, we may be taking steps backward in our local states, counties, and cities.

Why are you excited about the 2023 ATIXA Annual Conference?

Having this time together to connect and fight for what Title IX embodies—this idea that gender will never again be a barrier to education and opportunity—is profound. I love attending this conference because I am around other people who care about Title IX as much as I do and who see it for all it is and can be.

What do you hope to accomplish in your keynote address?

In my talk, I want to create that foundation that will inspire and guide us throughout the rest of the conference. We will look at the origins of Title IX. Many people who work in this field, significantly those new to it, benefit from that historical education. Then, it is about where we want to chart our direction. Without a roadmap, it can lead to feelings of confusion and wanting more support and not finding it. We have so much potential in the Title IX space and so much need for support. With the ATIXA conference, we can gather and connect for fellowship, brainstorming, and encouragement. I want to set up that atmosphere in my keynote and encourage everyone to continue growing throughout the following days.

What strategies and practices do you typically recommend for practitioners to prevent and respond to misconduct across their campuses and K-12 schools and districts?

Regs come and go, popular trainings disappear, and innovations are created. Our ways of thinking about these concepts rise and fall. We want to be mindful that we are implementing policies and procedures that are more than just a quick fix or popular topic. We should be thinking about what Title IX means to us. What does it mean to the world? What was its original intent? And how do we foresee where things are going instead of being in the moment? That is a struggle in many different industries, particularly ours. We need that global perspective of what we must do today and how our actions will affect our institutions and the world. Thinking about 10, 20, and 50 years in the future is vital.

What advice would you give to practitioners looking to deepen their understanding of Title IX?

For folks new to Title IX, they should look at this from social science, anthropological, and sociological perspectives. My background in education and sexology has helped me have that intersectional lens.

“Where are we going?” is a critical issue for Title IX professionals and a theme of your keynote address. Can you give us your thoughts on Title IX’s future?

Despite pushback, we will become a more inclusive world and a world that requires us to listen to even more voices and understand even more experiences. We must have multiple lenses through which we view Title IX, our practice, our procedures, our praxis, and our ability to take the research-informed perspective and apply it day-to-day and student-to-student. Even among faculty and staff, we need that launching point into the stratosphere of what we and our organizations can be. I would encourage people to continue to think about decolonization and how historical trauma affects our world today.

Dr. Laura McGuire, Ed.D., is an influential educator and thought leader in K-12 and higher education. They will deliver the keynote address at the 12th Annual ATIXA Conference from October 9-11, 2023, in Philadelphia, PA.