Gender equality has faced many challenges since the beginning of time. We have read many accounts of women who face injustices based on their gender. More so, we have come across or heard of stories of girls that deal with the way society views gender-based sports. Take Kenijha for instance, Kenijha is a 10th grade student who decided she would get up the nerve to try out for her high school’s football team. She understands the game, works out consistently and really feels that she would be a valuable asset to the school’s athletic program. Kenijha tries out and later learns that she did not make the team because she is a girl and coaches feared that the physical contact of the sort would cause future health concerns with Kenijha. The coaches then offered suggestions of other sports suitable for girls that would fit Kenijah better. This incident happens so many times with girls just like Kenijha who are classified in sports program based on gender. The purpose of this paper is to research the implications of equal protection for K-12 students as it pertains to the classification in sports programs based on gender. I will present facts on how students are categorized, point out the legal issues related to the classification and recount what equal protection requires.
A federal law passed over forty-three years ago on gender equality in schools. This law, Title IX of the Education Amendment in 1972, focused heavily on the lack of opportunities for athletes who are females. “In 1972, only 30,000 women, in comparison to the 170,000 men participated in the National Collegigiate Athletic Association Sports. The NCAA did not offer scholarships to women, nor did it hold championship games for female teams” (Wong, 2015). Title IX, gives the right that any institution
be it, K-12 or college level that is federally funded must distribute the same equal rights as it relates to resources, locker rooms, etc to both male and female athletes. If this law is violated in any way, federal funds could be cut. WIth the enactment of this law, the number of female athletes has increased in both college level and high school sports programs. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, “about two in five girls participate in high school varsity sports” (Hock,2014).
There are many legal issues that come to mind when discussing female athletes and gender equality. Take for instance, 14 year old Logan, who wanted to try out for her high school’s baseball team but was denied access to try-out or play because of she was a girl. This, of course, violated the Title IX Amendment and is very discriminatory. The 14 year old and her family eventually sued the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). Logan Young claimed in her suit that, “she was deprived of an opportunity to participate in high school baseball that is given similarly situated boys” (Hackney, 2009). Another case involving the United States Supreme Court is Darrin v. Gould (1975), in this case two sisters decided to try out for their high school’s football team and were denied even though they passed every requirement to play. The girls showed that they had what it took to play among the other boys on the team. Right before football season was to start, the coaches were informed that the girls could not play on the boys’ team, and as a result, the girls sued on the grounds of their equal protection rights being violated. The federal courts ruled that the State Interscholastic Activities Association breached the Equal Rights Amendment.
Equal Protection Requirements
As a clause in the 14th Amendment, Equal Protection forbids states to discriminate or treat any
person wrongly on the basis of race, religion, or gender. This law protects a citizen’s civil rights. “Many view it as an attempt to uphold the professed “all men are created equal” clause stated in the Constitution” (Laws, 2017).
Hackney, Holt. (2009). Legal Issues in High School Athletics: Lawsuit Pushes Athletic Association to Level Playing Field for Female Baseball Players. Hackney Publications. Retrieved from http://www.hackneypublications.com/lihsa/issues/2009/LIHSA-2009-July-August.php
Hock. Lindsey. (2014). What is Title IX? Women’s Sports Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/sports/what-is-title-ix/
Horowitz, J. Justia US Law. Darrin v. Gould. Retrieved from http://law.justia.com/cases/washington/supreme-court/1975/43276-1.html
Laws. (2017). Knowing the Equal Protection Clause. Retrieved from http://constitution.laws.com/equal-protection-clause