Leveling the Playing Field for Girls in High School Sports – Victory in San Diego
The benefits of participating in school sports go far beyond physical fitness. Studies show that high school girls who participate in team sports are less likely to drop out of school, smoke, drink, or become pregnant, and are more likely to go to college. The skills gained from sports participation, including teamwork, leadership, and discipline, are crucial to women’' success at work and in their personal lives.
Female athletes at Castle Park High School in San Diego, with help from the LAS–ELC and others, successfully brought a class action lawsuit against their school district for failing to offer them equal access to high school sports.
In 2007, suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against the Sweetwater School District on behalf of current and future female athletes claiming the school provided the girls significantly fewer opportunities to participate in athletics than it provided boys. These athletes based their claim on Title IX, a 40-year-old federal law that forbids sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal funds.
On February 9, 2012, in a potentially precedent-setting decision, Judge James M. Lorenz ruled in favor of the female athletes determining the school district unfairly favored boys’ sports over girls’ sports at Castle Park High School by giving the boys better athletic facilities, resources and opportunities.
Judge Lorenz agreed with the girls in ruling that Castle Park High School allowed “significant gender-based disparity” in sports at the expense of female athletes. LAS–ELC continues to fight on behalf of the girls in seeking to preserve Judge Lorenz’s decision, currently being appealed by the school district in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.