In 1971, there was only one female high school athlete for every twelve males. Nationwide, only 294,000 girls were participating in high school sports, while a whopping 3.6 million boys enjoyed spots on athletic teams. Then in 1972, Congress passed Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in any school receiving federal money, which includes nearly all public schools, most private colleges, and many private secondary and elementary schools.
Although the purpose of Title IX is to prohibit any type of sex discrimination in schools, it was quickly recognized as a tool to achieve gender equity in athletic programs. Since the passage of Title IX, female participation in high school athletics has increased tenfold, to nearly 3 million spots on school teams. Although this is great progress, girls still have some catching up to do, since the number of boys participating in high school sports is nearly 4 million. This means that even today, girls comprise 40% of high school athletes while boys comprise 60%.
Many people assume that Title IX applies only to colleges because most of the publicity has centered around university lawsuits; however, this is not true. Title IX applies to any school receiving federal funds, which includes high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. It is important that athletes, coaches, parents, teachers, and administrators learn about Title IX because a recent survey of California high schools revealed that the majority of schools are still not in compliance.
You can use this guide to inform yourself and assess whether your school treats girls as fairly in sports as it treats boys. If not, which is likely, we include steps you can take to help address any problems at your school. Take action now, speak up, and don’t let discrimination persist in high schools!
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