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12 new Title IX lawsuits filed today: What does it mean?

November 10, 2010 – 5:42 PM

By Laura Pappano

The National Women’s Law Center filed complaints today against 12 school districts (see press release here) that are meant to be a sampling – not an exhaustive expose of who’s ignoring Title IX.

The suit is a reminder that, although Title IX opened doors of access, that it 1) didn’t do a very good job and 2) is being ignored by districts across the country.

The NWLC argues that only 41 percent of HS athletes are girls – even though girls make up half of the student population – suggesting uneven access to teams in high school.

While grumblers may complain that “girls aren’t interested in sports” that is simply nonsense. More often, they are shut out, steered away or bowled over by obstructive school bureaucracies. (For a previous FGN post by Hannah Ritchie, a Texas high school student who filed – and won – her Title IX complaint, click here.)

The National Women’s Law Center filing is a reminder that while Title IX did increase access (although it did not demand equality) that it hasn’t even accomplished the essential goal of equal opportunity.

One of the most cited stats related to Title IX is that girls’ high school sports participation has risen 979 percent between 1971 and 2009 (according to the National Federation of State High School Associations).

But what is not made clear is that the increase – from 294,000 to 3.71 million – merely puts girls BELOW where boys HS sports participation was in 1971 (that’s was 3.66 million).

And now? There are 4.45 million boys playing HS sports.

Just because we see a lot more girls out there on the fields and in the gyms, doesn’t mean we’re there yet. Progress? Absolutely. But done? Not at all.

The lawsuit, however, also points out an even more troubling reality about Title IX: It’s too complicated for the average person to spot and draw attention to violations. (Here’s one that was missed).

The very fact that we need the NWLC to take up this cause reveals why Title IX — terrific as it was in taking many girls from no access to some access — is a limited tool for seeking fair treatment.

Yes, we need it. But it’s not enough.

  1. 2 Responses to “12 new Title IX lawsuits filed today: What does it mean?”

  2. this is where discussion needs to happen, and we’re going to disagree LP, but these lawsuits are a joke. yes, the numbers suggest that the percentages are out of whack, but missing from these alegations are solutions.

    it’s one thing to say boys have more sports opportunities than girls statistically and file a bunch of complaints based on pie charts, but it is completely another to find ways to bridge that gap.

    serious question, what would you do if you were the superintendent of one of these districts? wipe out a boys’ team and remove opportunities for boys just for the sake of squaring the numbers? or would you add more girls sports? and if you chose the latter, what would you add?

    i know it burns, but football is just not a reality for girls, or 99% of men for that matter. football needs a title 9 exemption, it’s just too exclusive by nature to be included in any discussion about equality.

    By mcjack on Nov 14, 2010

  3. MC,
    The solution is to let girls play. What we were seeking in our grievance was making one of the girls’ sports non cut like football; i.e. volleyball. The girls were willing to have overflow teams that played only against the other high school in our school district or just intermural type play. But after being told by the Federal Govt that they were noncompliant on all levels of Title IX(we won), the district gave us Waterpolo. This expansion was enough to make them compliant but doesn’t increase their embarassing participation rate of 25% for girls.
    Sorry about being late to the game LOL but I just finished my first set of college finals(3.6) and had to get my wisdom teeth out!!

    By Hannah Ritchie on Dec 14, 2010

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