WOMEN RIGHT NOW

What have they done for us lately?

UConn stars Rebecca Lobo, left, and Jennifer Rizzotti dominated sports headlines this spring.

• Congresswomen from both parties among them Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Connie Morelia (R-Md.)-have been battling House members who are intent on cutting important reproductive-rights measures from this year’s appropriations bills. For instance, state medicaid programs currently cover abortions in cases of rape and incest, but in February the House Appropriations Committee agreed to let states refuse to pay in such cases. Though the change was temporarily dropped, it will probably resurface.

• Republican leaders have hinted that they might try to reinstate the gag rule barring doctors at clinics that receive federal funds from discussing abortion. They haven’t done so yet, but Rep.

Pat Schroeder (D-Col.) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) aren’t wailing. They have introduced the Women’s Right to Know Act, which would forbid such limits on physicians’ speech. “I don’t want to leave anything to chance,” Schroeder told the House. Original cosponsors of the bill included Lowey and Morelia; at press time, it had more than 50 sponsors and was before the House Judiciary Committee.

Michelle Pfeiffer stars as…

• Alert: The American Football Coaches Association plans to argue before Congress that the guidelines that govern the 23-year-old Title IX, which forbids gender discrimination in schools that receive federal funding, should be modified because it draws too much money away from football and toward women’s sports. A likely teacher Louanne Johnson.

Voice on women’s behalf is Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a longtime and ardent supporter of Title IX. Let’s urge congresswomen to join forces with him. -Reported by Lucretia Marmon and Alissa Rubin in Washington, D.C.

Women wow the sports world f X An 1995, its 102nd year, women’s college basketball made it big. ESPN and V I J ESPN2 committed to telecast 23 N.C.A.A. Championship games next year, up from four this year. Attendance is also up to 3.6 million, triple that of the 1984-1985 season. With the growing popularity of the game, “women’s basketball is poised to become a pro sport within two years,” says Donna Lopiano, Ph.D., executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Here, a recap of the season’s top plays:

style-96• University of North Carolina’s Charlotte Smith became the first woman in ten years to dunk the ball during competition. The six-foot forward stole a pass and power-slammed one-handed just 17 seconds into a game against North Carolina A&T. The jam could mean an extra $10,000 to $50,000 in salary if Smith plays in the European pro league next year.

# USA Basketball, an organization that puts together Olympic basketball teams, announced the formation of a women’s national team that will begin training in September for the 1996 Olympics. The 12 teammates will be the only paid women basketball players in the United States with salaries between $40,000 and $60,000.

• Against all odds, Sybil Smith, a 5′ 4″ 34-year-old at Baruch College in New York City, racked up the highest rebound average of any U.S. woman, boxing out players a good foot taller than she. “People used to underestimate me,” she says. “Now they triple-team me.”

9 For the first time, Nike named a shoe after a female athlete Air Swoopes, inspired by Sheryl Swoopes, who led Texas Tech to the 1993 championship.

The last signature Nike shoe was the Air Jordan, which hit the court ten years ago.

# All eyes focused on the University of Connecticut when both the men’s and the women’s teams ranked number one a first in basketball history. UConn men lost their top position, but the women went on to win the N.C.A.A. Championship. Their record for the season was 35 0. Anne Breza.

The girls in the back of the class

Jouanne Johnson, a teacher at a tough high school south of San ‘ Francisco, was looking at school graduation photos one day when she noticed that boys’ blue gowns far outnumbered girls’ white ones. This made her realize she’d been wrong to think only her male students had school troubles. ‘The girls in my class didn’t cause problems like the boys did,” says Johnson. “They just stopped coming.” The question of why they dropped out is covered in Johnson’s latest memoir, The Girls in the Back of the Class (St. Martin’s Press). (Girls is the sequel to 1992’s My Posse Don’t Do Homework, which has been made into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer to be released in July.) For her new book, Johnson found that abuse and family problems were coming between many girls and graduation. “The boys demand immediate attention,” she says. “If they bring a gun to school, you can’t say, ‘Let’s talk next week.’ If a girl is having a relationship problem, it’s easy to put her off.” Now a teacher in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Johnson adds, “I tell my girls, you shouldn’t be penalized in school just because you’re easier to get along with.” Laura Billings

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