The Continuing Fight for Title IX EnforcementFebruary 16, 2011
AAUW recently lent our support to a Title IX lawsuit in Indiana, signing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in Parker v. Indiana High School Athletic Association et al. AAUW strongly supports Title IX and opposes any efforts that would weaken its effectiveness or girls’ opportunities.
Last year, the mothers of two female high school basketball players filed suit against several Indiana school districts and the Indiana High School Athletic Association, alleging that their daughters’ rights had been violated under Title IX and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. They claimed that the districts and association disproportionately scheduled boys’ basketball games on Friday and Saturday nights and girls’ games on school nights. The mothers argued that the schedule placed burdens on female athletes, such as limited time to study on weeknights and fewer opportunities to be seen by college recruiters.
A federal district court in Indiana ruled that the disproportionate scheduling of boys’ games on Fridays and Saturdays did not deny athletic opportunity to female athletes and was therefore not a violation of Title IX or the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs — and AAUW — are appealing this decision, which goes against legal precedents that establish that unfair scheduling of girls’ sporting events violates Title IX. Scheduling games so that female athletes have to travel long distances during the school week or play late-night games is unfair and limits girls’ opportunities to be involved in sports.
Not only is this policy unfair, it’s also shortsighted. Girls who participate in sports are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, do drugs, smoke, or develop mental illness. Additionally, playing sports has been shown to improve girls’ employment potential and participation and decreases their risk of becoming obese, even decades later. It’s clear that encouraging girls to participate in sports doesn’t just help them today, it helps them throughout their lives.
The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund’s Title IX Compliance: Know the Score Program in a Box provides resources and detailed plans to help members investigate whether schools in their community are in compliance with the law. Get involved and help improve girls’ opportunities to play sports!