Monthly Archives: May 2010

I think my school is in violation of Title IX. What do I do now?

The first step would be to alert your school that it is in violation – many schools do not know the law and what Title IX requires of them. Your school may be willing to make voluntary changes. Each school is required by law to have a Title IX coordinator. Find out who that person is and tell her about the Title IX problem. If your school is a high school or junior high school, you should notify the principal and the athletic director, and the coaches as well. You may also want to notify the school board.

Put your complaint in writing and be sure to keep a copy of your complaint. Students can voice their concerns by writing letters to school officials and school board members. Parents may also advocate for their children, and coaches for their athletes. Anyone can make a Title IX complaint!

In addition, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education is responsible for enforcing Title IX. You can file a complaint with the OCR regarding your school. The OCR has twelve regional enforcement offices, with one located in San Francisco. The OCR website is www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr.

If you have legal questions regarding your school and Title IX, or if you have been unsuccessful in resolving your claim yourself, you can contact the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) at (323) 951-1041 or email us.

Does Title IX apply to parks and recreation teams?

No. Title IX is an educational law which applies only to schools that receive federal funding. However, California Government Code § 53080 prohibits gender discrimination in community youth athletic programs and parks and recreation facilities. Like Title IX, this law requires community recreational departments to provide boys’ programs and girls’ programs the same level of services, facilities, and supplies.

I have heard that Title IX requires schools to cut boys’ teams. Is this true?

Definitely not. Title IX does not require schools to cut boys’ teams to comply with its requirement that schools provide girls with opportunities to play sports in proportion to their enrollment in the school. Individual schools may choose to cut boys’ teams, rather than add more girls’ teams, as a means to comply with Title IX. However, this is the decision of individual schools rather than a mandate of Title IX.

A better way to comply with Title IX is to raise additional money to fund additional girls’ teams, to trim the fat from bloated “big sport” budgets such as football or basketball, or to cut funding equally from all boys’ teams rather than eliminating a boys’ sport altogether. The decision to cut teams is school-specific and in no way should be blamed on Title IX.

My school is a private school that does not receive any type of federal funding. Does this mean I have no recourse under Title IX?

If it is true that your school receives no federal funding, Title IX does not apply to your school. Be aware that almost all private colleges receive federal funding through financial aid programs. Private high schools or junior high schools may receive some benefit from federal tax dollars (e.g., federal lunch programs), which could subject them to Title IX.

Even if your school truly receives no federal funding, there are separate California laws which mirror Title IX but apply to schools that receive state funding. California Education Code § 221.5 and California Education Code § 66271.7 prohibit gender discrimination in schools. The requirements are almost identical to Title IX’s requirements, so this manual will still be useful in helping you determine whether your school is in compliance with California law.

There is a female club field hockey team at our school with enough female players to field a varsity team. The club has asked to be given varsity status, but the school claims there is not enough funding. Is this legal under Title IX?

If your school provides boys with a greater number of slots on athletic teams than their proportion of the school population, then refusing to add another girls’ team is most likely a violation of Title IX. Lack of funding is never a valid justification for discrimination under Title IX. If there is a club team that has enough members to field a varsity team, has teams at other schools in the region to play, and has asked to be awarded varsity status, then the school is not currently meeting female athletic interest and ability and is probably violating Title IX.

I am a coach of a girls’ high school basketball team that is being discriminated against by the high school in violation of Title IX. Is it legal for the school district to fire me for filing a Title IX complaint?

No. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal for a school district to retaliate against any person for complaining about sex discrimination in violation of Title IX.

Coaches and teachers are often the best advocates for the rights of their students because they frequently are in the best position to identify discrimination and bring it to the attention of administrators.

Disclaimer

Ask a Lawyer is designed to help students, coaches, parents and educators understand girls’ rights under Title IX to equal athletic opportunities and benefits in high school athletic programs. Ask a Lawyer is intended to provide general information and is not intended, nor should it be relied upon, as legal advice. If you are interested in getting help with a particular legal problem involving Title IX and girls’ athletics, contact the California Women’s Law Center at (323) 951-1041 or justplaynow@cwlc.org

No attention…

At my school, there are announcements every day about the football games and the boys’ basketball games.  I’m on the girls’ varsity basketball team and we rock! We’ve won almost all of our games last season.  It feels terrible that they don’t announce my games in the morning.  I want to do something about that.  I want everyone at school to know how great our team is and I want them to come to our games!

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