My daughter wants to play baseball, but her school says CIF won’t let her play.

“Our daughter is in 8th grade at a private school in Oakland, CA. She plays baseball on her middle school team and in the Oakland Little League, where she has played for about the last 8 years. She would like to continue playing baseball in high school rather than switch to softball, which we consider a different sport. Evidently, there is also legal precedent in other states. She has recently been told by the athletic director of her school that when she enters the high school this coming Fall, she will not be allowed to try out for the baseball team because the school offers softball as an equal sport for girls, and according to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) rules, if the same sport is offered for girls and boys, the girls are not permitted to try out for the boys teams.

My wife and I have the following questions:

1) Are softball and baseball officially considered different sports in California?

2) Are private schools subject to Title IX or California Education Code § 221.5 if they don’t receive any federal or state funding?

3) Why are girls allowed to play baseball in other CIF member high schools that also have softball programs, but it’s not allowed at our daughter’s school?

4) Does the CIF have the authority to prevent girls from trying out for high school baseball regardless of whether softball is offered as a sport?

Thank you for your assistance.”

Answer

The Athletic Director that you spoke with was misinformed. The California Interscholastic Federation (“CIF”), permits girls to try out and play on high school baseball teams throughout California and has done so for many years. We confirmed this with the State CIF office today. Baseball and softball are different sports under CIF rules.

Although private schools that receive no federal funding are exempt from Title IX’s requirements, gender discrimination is not a generally accepted ethos at most private high schools. For example, Miranda McOsker was the starting junior varsity and reserve varsity quarterback for Bishop Montgomery High School, a private Catholic school in Torrance, California, a few years ago and two girls are currently playing for Trinity Prep High School’s baseball team in Napa.

Go back to the Athletic Director with this information and hopefully you will get a positive response. You can also contact the State CIF office directly at 916-239-4477. Let us know what happens. Good luck!

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