Is lack of sports options really an educational civil rights issue?

The Columbus City School District, Ohio's largest, is being targeted by an anti-discrimination group?among twelve districts nationwide?for allegedly not providing girls with equal access to high school sports.? The National Women's Law Center brought the civil rights claim to the U.S. Department of Education yesterday.?They assert that Columbus is violating Title IX regulations, which prohibit discrimination based on gender in school activities.

The list of allegations is ambiguous at best, raising the question of whether this is something that we should be debating at all.? NWLC claims that girls in Columbus high schools are underrepresented on the playing field and that the district isn't doing anything to increase opportunities for them. To make this complaint even more uncertain the group cites West High School, a school where girls make up 48 percent of the student body, but only account for 32 percent of athletes.? At first glance this disparity might seem concerning, but it is unclear whether girls in the school want more athletic options than they already have.? As it is now West High School offers girls' basketball, softball, tennis, track, and allows girls to join the wrestling team.? Title IX states that schools have to demonstrate that they are improving sports options for girls or that they already offer what is demanded.? It is vague and questionable which, if either, of these criteria is being violated.

As a former high school and collegiate athlete, I appreciate the benefits of organized sports opportunities and I want to see girls have equal opportunities to boys.?But it doesn't make sense to target districts who are already facing serious budget cuts with such litigation. Districts should not be throwing money into creating more sports options that aren't necessarily wanted or needed.

?Bianca Speranza

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