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Title IX Still In the Courtroom

In 1972, the United States of America passed a law that says “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any education program or activity...” It was named the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and its’ passing is the foundation for the environment we for the most part have today, where girls can equally and proudly play sports in school without being discriminated against for ‘being a girl.’ In the early weeks of March 2010, 38-years after the passing of Title IX, three Baldwin High School softball players with their parents and their coaches, sued Hawaii's Maui County and the State Department of Education for “sex discrimination” in their athletic program, Rob Shikina reports in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. The lawsuit was filed after the school moved the state-champion softball team to a rock-strewn field that is too small for regulation play, and which is located over a mile away from campus in an unsafe area of the city where women had reportedly been assaulted before. Baldwin High’s baseball team, however, continued playing on their high school home turf, a stadium “with covered seating for 1,500, an air-conditioned press box, a manicured field and batting cages with artificial turf.” Hmmm....what doesn’t seem right here? The decision made by BHS and the Department of Education to move the softball team’s field sent the message to these young girls that they were valued less than their male counterparts--violating the principal of gender equality that Title IX was designed to guarantee. Well, BHS should have known that since the passing of Title IX, us girls have just grown bigger, stronger, and louder about our rights to equality in school athletics…which is exactly why these courageous softball players had the strength to stand up against their athletic program, their school authorities, their education system, and the state, to sue in violation of the equal treatment that is required of Title IX. It was argued that the softball teams’ new field location, dangerous field conditions, and the forced reduced practice time for the team, put the girls in harms way and risks their ability to reach optimal potential, jeopardizing their scholarships and college recognition for softball. Fortunately, there is a happy ending to this frustrating story. On March 19, a federal judge ruled in favor of the softball players, arguing that the “obvious disparity” between the girls’ and boys’ respective facilities violated the principals of non-discrimination outlined in Title IX. The judge also ordered that the fields be examined so that the girls could start playing in adequate facilities, as their school baseball team was able to. Moral of the story here, girls, is that even though our situation as players in school sports programs is way better in MANY, MANY ways compared to 40 years ago, we are still very much in a battle to become equals in the sports world to men or boys. It is important that we continue to recognize when we are not being treated fairly, and stand up for ourselves when something seems unjust. Title IX is still considered a controversial law in many parts of the country, as demonstrated by this story, and it is a law that is challenged every day by schools, colleges, and various athletic authorities. It is up to us to guarantee that future generations of young girls get to grow up in schools where they feel safe and confident to play sports! To learn more about the history of Title IX, click here. To watch TV Broadcast on this story (included with pictures and video of the fields), click here. Do you have a Title IX story to tell? Have thoughts on this story? Please, leave us a comment!