title ix

K-12 girls: Exercise your right to equity in sports!

Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, is 43 years old. Yet huge disparities still exist in athletic opportunities for young girls and boys. That gap exacerbates inequalities in education, employment, and health. Not only are sports fun, but they promote girls’ success and well-being off the field. Girls who play sports get better grades and earn more wages in higher-skill positions. Black female athletes are more likely to graduate from college than their non-athlete peers. And youth exercise leads to lower rates of breast cancer and depression for girls.

Want to close the gap between girls’ and boys’ sports? Want to stand up for your rights as a young athlete? A new video from the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center (where I just happen to be interning this summer) provides a great primer on Title IX guarantees for girls’ sports in just a few minutes.

After watching the video and sharing it with girls in your life, learn more about Title IX and sports here.

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  • Gender equity in sports is required by law.
  • Know AND EXERCISE your rights!
  • Ayah: Why does this matter? Did you know that…
  • Ayah: Overall, girls who play sports get better grades and have higher scores on standardized tests than non-athletes.
  • Fiona: And athletes are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college than those who don’t play sports.
  • Cara: Research shows, once they start working, girls who play sports in high school go on to earn 7% more than their non-athlete peers.
  • Fiona interview: It’s really important for me to see gender equity in sports. Especially comparing myself and some boy relatives that I have that have gone on to play collegiate athletics. I feel myself saying I can do that, but I’m going to do that on the women’s side of things. I can get the same equipment, I can play at the same facilities, work out at the same facilities, that is my goal. And with title IX, I can do that.
  • Ireland Interview: I cannot imagine my life without sports. I would say it would be incomplete; there would be something missing. Having physical activity, having a set time where you do things, it helps you with structure. It just helps regulate my life.
  • Interview Sumi: I definitely want to play sports just as much as my brother wants to. Just because we’re different genders doesn’t make anything different.
  • Fiona: Title IX is a federal law that applies in California and throughout the nation that says there can be no discrimination based on gender in public schools.
  • Fiona: This means no unequal treatment of boys and girls, in educational programs, including athletics.
  • Fiona: The law applies to all public elementary, middle, and high schools, including charter schools, colleges and universities.
  • Sumi: The law requires looking at the entire athletic program, not just one or two teams, to see whether girls and boys have equal treatment and benefits throughout the program.
  • Sumi: For example, girls and boys must have equal:
    • Field quality
    • Gyms and locker rooms
    • Quality and number of coaches
    • Equipment
    • Scheduling of games and practice times
  • Cara: The law requires schools to oversee booster clubs, sports fundraising, and donations to ensure equal resources are enjoyed by girls and boys teams alike.
  • Fiona: Boys and girls must have equal participation in school sports.
  • Ayah: So if there are 1000 students at a school, 500 girls and 500 boys, and 100 students play on school sports teams, then 50 of those students playing sports must be girls and 50 must be boys.
  • Sumi: The law also prohibits retaliation against a student, parent, or coach, for example, who talks about Title IX or requests equity in their school sports program.
  • Ayah: If you talk to someone, like a principal, because you think your school isn’t following Title IX, you shouldn’t be disciplined for taking action.
  • Sumi: Another important law for equity among girls and boys in sports is AB 2404, the Fair Play in Community Sports Act.
  • Sumi: The Fair Play Act is a CA law similar to title IX that requires equal treatment of girls and boys in community youth competitive athletics programs hosted by Parks & Rec Departments of California.
  • Sumi: The Fair Play Act also applies to private sports programs that use park & rec facilities, like club soccer.
  • Ayah: Look around. Does your school or park program treat girls equally in comparison to boys?
  • Ayah: If you see inequality in your sports program, take action and speak up!
  • Gender equity in sports is required by law!
  • Ayah: If you need help you can contact: Fair Play for Girls in Sports, a project of the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com. During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com.

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