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Title IX: Striving for Equality in Sports

At LHS, Title IX permits girls to play football (traditionally a male-dominated sport) and does not permit boys to play badminton (there is only a girls team offered here).

At LHS, Title IX permits girls to play football (traditionally a male-dominated sport) and does not permit boys to play badminton (there is only a girls team offered here).

Maria Thames

Maria Thames

At LHS, Title IX permits girls to play football (traditionally a male-dominated sport) and does not permit boys to play badminton (there is only a girls team offered here).

Rachel Benner, Staff Writer

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Over the years, laws have been put into place at schools to close gender gaps. These codes touch mainly on educational opportunities, but they also cover sports and activities. In 1972, a law called Title IX was established to eliminate sex discrimination in school environments. It is still prevalent today, specifically in the realm of sports. It states:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

-Education Amendments Act of 1972


What does that mean?

There are three aspects to the law, and if a school meets all of them, then they are properly obeying it.

The first component is called the “three-prong test,” which was created in 1980 to provide clarification on sports offerings. The school must meet all three of the goals. First, a school needs to have a substantial proportionality for its students, which means the number of  male and female athletes is proportionate to the number of sports offered. The second prong states that there is a required history and continuing practice of program expansion for female athletes. The third piece is the full and effective accommodations of athletics, interests and abilities.

Component two calls for equality in financial assistance for all genders. Financial aid granted to male recipients must be strictly proportionate to female recipients. This helps defend the underrepresented gender’s opportunities.

The third component covers everything else that the first and second don’t. Equality amongst sports equipment, protection, locker rooms, practice facilities, travel budgets, coaching assignments, marketing, game and practice times and scheduling fall under this component, to name a few.

¨Basically [component three asks], are you giving the same opportunities whether it’s facility-wise, whether it’s funding-wise, whether it’s how you set up practices and competitions,¨ explained Athletic Director Briant Kelly.

Title IX does not apply to female students only, but it does advocate for them more. In past years, women have not been given as many opportunities in sports as males. Title IX is trying to close that gap.


Title IX at LHS:

LHS follows Title IX in all of the three components, according to Mr. Kelly. For almost every male sport, there is an equivalent female sport. Softball and baseball are considered equivalent, as well as girls and boys lacrosse.

Regardless of gender or required equipment, these sports get equal funding; however, because of how the budget is organized, they might not all receive the same amount in one year, Mr. Kelly said.

Cheer and poms are considered female sports and football and wrestling are considered male sports, even though someone from an opposite gender can go out for the sport. Presently, there are 18 female sports and 16 male sports, if cheer and poms are counted for both fall and winter.

The Athletic Department records how many students participate each season by gender. When added up, this past year had 974 seasons played in male-dominant sports and 872 for female-dominant sports (these numbers include athletes who play multiple sports). Over the past 15 years, the amount of female participants has about doubled with the new opportunities they have been given.

LHS policy states for sports that have an equal gender-equivalent sport, students will play on the team that they identify with. In the case of a student who is transgender and/or gender non-conformist, LHS will adhere to a process set up by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

This procedure includes the student and/or parent contacting the school administration to inform them of the different identity than was stated on their birth certificate. The school collects the student’s registration records, medical documents (including hormonal treatments, sexual reassignment surgery and counseling records), and gender identity related advantages for approved participation and sends them to the IHSA office as a request for a student’s participation. IHSA then reviews the documents with an established group of medical personnel and makes a ruling.


Causing A Racquet:

This year, LHS created a girls badminton team, comprised of 36 female participants.

According to Mr. Kelly, the team was started after the school “had interest level through some of our open gyms, through some of the surveys that I’ve done in the past for our students and then also when we went to our new conference of eight schools, the majority of the schools were going to have badminton already.”

Badminton is considered by the IHSA as a girls sport. Unlike predominantly male sports such as football and wrestling, where females are welcome to join, boys were unable to try out for the LHS team, despite their curiosity for the sport.

“The reason a boy cannot try out for a girls team is because Title IX protects the underrepresented gender,” elaborated IHSA Assistant Executive Director Stacy Lambert in an email.  “Allowing a boy to participate on a girls team would potentially take the place of a girl who wanted to participate and therefore not protect the underrepresented gender.”

There was only a small interest level in a boys badminton team. According to an email from A-F LST counselor and girls badminton coach Mrs. Judi Neuberger, she received “a couple of emails and a couple of phone calls as well as two or three students that stopped by to ask about the possibility of boys playing badminton.”.

Several factors prevent a boys badminton team at this time: There is not enough interest to form a team, IHSA does not currently offer boys badminton as an official sport and there are no other teams in the conference that have created a boys badminton team.

However, boys are encouraged to become managers for the girls team next spring season Mrs. Neuberger.

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