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We Have No Idea How Many High Schools Are Failing Title IX Athletics

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https://deadspin.com/we-have-no-idea-how-many-high-schools-are-failing-title-1837378077

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No one is keeping tabs on the high schools. Title IX, passed in 1972, guarantees that all institutions that receive federal funding must provide equal opportunities, facilities, and supplies to students regardless of their gender. In athletics, that means that for every position on a team available to a boy, there must be a position for a girl. Since the passage of Title IX, girls participation in varsity high school sports has increased tenfold, to almost 3 million players.

Last week, I published a story about a group of high school girls fighting to get their schools to include football for them. The school district they are fighting (Jordan School District in Salt Lake City, Utah) failed the first two prongs of Title IX. They did not have the same number of athletic opportunities for girls, and they had no historic pattern of attempting to create new opportunities for girls. Whether these girls win their lawsuit will be decided based on whether or not a judge determines that girls in the school district desire more athletic opportunities.

When I looked at the data for their school district and the historic data for public school sports played in Utah at large, though, it became clear that this isn’t a new problem. There have been fewer opportunities for girls to play sports in this school district since it was founded. So how did it get away with it for so long?

I spoke with a half dozen lawyers who specialize in Title IX law and have worked on cases at the high school level, and all of them said the same thing: it is a safe bet to say that most high schools in the United States are providing more athletic opportunities to boys than to girls.

There is no accurate count of how many high schools are not compliant with Title IX. Unlike at the college level, where data is kept by the NCAA, there is no centralized group paying attention to high schools. (The High School Sports Information Collection Act, which would have gathered this data, never made it past the Senate floor after being introduced in 2009.) On top of that, even if there were, there are so many high schools in America that it would be difficult to gather all the necessary data. According to data provided by the Women’s Sports Foundation, 3,415,297 girls played high school sports in the 2017-2018 school year. They made up 42.8 percent of participants. That means girls are provided with 1.15 million fewer opportunities to play sports at the high school level.

So why do so many high schools still fail Title IX in athletics?

“The first problem with Title IX [compliance] is that too many people don’t really understand what the law says,” Sarah Axelson, Senior Director of Advocacy at the Women’s Sports Foundation, says. “Every school is supposed to have a Title IX coordinator, but too often they’ve been taught incorrectly. No one is teaching these schools the intricacies of the law.”

Because Title IX also encompasses sexual harassment and assault allegations, Title IX coordinators are (perhaps correctly) focusing on that aspect of the law more intently. But structural inequalities in girls athletics still matter.

Many Title IX coordinators, including three I spoke to in the past month, did not understand some of the basic tenets of Title IX law. In reporting about the Utah girls’ football league, a Title IX coordinator was deposed. He said that because the number of sports (10 for boys and 10 for girls) was equal, the school was in compliance. That is not how Title IX compliance works. There have to be an equal number of athletic positions available.

It’s not just the sheer number of athletic opportunities that decides whether a high school is Title IX compliant. Everything has to be equal: locker rooms, play facilities, fan opportunity, and provided gear. That means if a high school boys team has better jerseys, or a better weight room, or fancier soap in their locker room, or fields closer to the school, or nicer playing surfaces, or even better nights to play on than the girls teams, that high school is not in compliance with Title IX.

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So who here knows who the "Title IX Coordinator" at there local government high school is?  Is it usually the A.D.?  Principal?  Superintendent?  And have they been properly trained to know the law?

 

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Perhaps you should start on North Meridian?

The IHSAA currently has a huge Title IX issue with their new (now in it's second year) limited contact rule. Boy Basketball currently gets two more weeks of instruction than their female counterparts. Baseball players get one extra week than their softball playing classmates. Over the course of a four year career, boys basketball players are receiving and 32 more hours of instruction than their female peers. 

I will admit to playing the Title IX card to get lights at our Softball diamond, when every other venue at the school had them, and we didn't. 

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54 minutes ago, Impartial_Observer said:

Perhaps you should start on North Meridian?

The IHSAA currently has a huge Title IX issue with their new (now in it's second year) limited contact rule. Boy Basketball currently gets two more weeks of instruction than their female counterparts. Baseball players get one extra week than their softball playing classmates. Over the course of a four year career, boys basketball players are receiving and 32 more hours of instruction than their female peers. 

I will admit to playing the Title IX card to get lights at our Softball diamond, when every other venue at the school had them, and we didn't. 

I thought membership in the IHSAA was voluntary?

 

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