Fair Play for Girls in Sports is a project of the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center focusing on increasing sports opportunities for low-income girls. Girls playing competitive school sports benefit in the classroom, in the workplace as adults, and for a lifetime. Under Title IX, girls can demand and achieve equality on their public school sports teams!
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 ensuring the right of females to participate equally in sports offered in public schools, including elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges and universities. Title IX applies to any school in the United States that receives federal funding, even if much of the school’s income is state or locally based. Title IX requires that:
(1) girls have equal opportunities to play school sports (as in number of team slots);
(2) girls have equal treatment and benefits in school sports programs (such as facilities);
(3) girls cannot be retaliated against for making a complaint about inequalities.
Girls who play sports excel in academics, lead healthier lives, and succeed in employment as adults. Studies show that young women who play sports are more likely to graduate from high school, have higher grades, and score higher on standardized tests than non-athletes. Girls who play sports in high school earn 7% higher wages working as adults and those who play in college more often reach top management positions.
- In 1972, under 300,000 girls played high school sports compared to over 3 million today.
- 82% of executive business women played organized sports growing up.
- In 1912, women were 2% of Olympics athletes; in 2012, 44% of Olympians were women.
To determine Title IX compliance, a school’s athletic program is assessed to see whether on the whole female and male athletes have the same participation opportunities, treatment, and benefits, based on the following general analysis:
Participation Opportunities: First, Title IX requires that the number of athletic opportunities for boys and girls—meaning slots on competitive school sports teams—are proportionate to the number of girl and boy students at the school. For example:
- In a school of 1000 students (500 girls and 500 boys) female students are 50% and male students are 50% of the student body.
- If the athletic program consists of 100 athletes on several freshman, junior varsity, and varsity teams, girls must occupy 50% of team slots and boys 50%.
- Therefore, under Title IX, the athletic program should have 50 female athletes and 50 male athletes actively participating (though certain limited exceptions may apply).
Equal Treatment & Benefits: Second, Title IX requires that male and female athletes have equivalent treatment and benefits. Known as the “laundry list,” considered factors include:
- equipment & supplies
- medical/training facilities & services
- game & practice schedules
- provision of locker rooms
- travel & per diem allowances
- housing/dining facilities & services
- facilities for practices & games
For example, if male athletes typically play on the newer, nicer field or court in comparison to facilities female athletes use, or if male athletes have more uniforms per team in comparison to female athletes, an equal treatment and benefits complaint may be made under Title IX. Note: Even if booster clubs donate funds to male teams, schools must ensure benefits are equally distributed among male and female athletes.
No Retaliation: Third, a school or school district, may not retaliate because a complaint is made about gender inequities in the athletic program. Retaliation could take the form of benching a player or firing a coach after inequality concerns are raised.
If you see inequities in a school’s athletic program, you may contact the school or district’s Title IX Coordinator, the individual designated to receive and investigate Title IX complaints. If no such coordinator is available, you can complain directly to the principal or school district. The Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights also handles Title IX complaints. Finally,Fair Play for Girls in Sports can be contacted at any time for assistance with Title IX concerns or questions through our toll-free number [877-593-0074] or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Fact Sheet is intended to provide accurate, general information regarding legal rights relating to employment in California. Yet because laws and legal procedures are subject to frequent change and differing interpretations, the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center cannot ensure the information in this Fact Sheet is current nor be responsible for any use to which it is put. Do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney or the appropriate agency about your rights in your particular situation.