Former U.S. Senator and Author of Title IX Law Birch Bayh Dead at 91

Bayh championed women's education and sports.

Senator Birch Bayh (center right, in dark suit) has passed away. He was 91. (Photo by Mikki Ansin/Getty Images)
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Former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh, who championed the Title IX law banning of discrimination against women in college sports and admissions, has died. He was 91.

Bayh was surrounded by family at his home in Easton, Maryland, when he died shortly after midnight from pneumonia, his family said in a statement.

Bayh, a liberal Democrat, had a back-slapping, humorous campaigning style that helped him win three narrow elections to the Senate starting in 1962, 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 was the lead sponsor of the landmark 1972 law prohibiting gender discrimination in education known as Title IX for its section in the Higher Education Act. The law’s passage came 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.

Bayh said the law was aimed at giving women a better shot at higher-paying jobs. He continued speaking in support of Title IX’s enforcement for years after leaving Congress.

“It was clear that the greatest danger or damage being done to women was the inequality of higher education,” Bayh said in a 2012 interview. “If you give a person an education, whether it’s a boy or girl, young woman or young man, they will have the tools necessary to make a life for families and themselves.”

Bayh is survived by his wife Kitty, sons Evan and Christopher, and four grandchildren.

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