New suit to claim Title IX doesn’t protect equality, it hurts it

Cameron Smith

Nearly a year after 12 school districts were cited for non-compliance with Title IX in a legal complaint filed by the National Women's Law Center, another group announced plans to file suit against the U.S. Department of Education, challenging the enforcement of Title IX by claiming the measure actually violates constitutionally protected clauses for equal protection of both sexes.

Title IX baseball
Title IX baseball

The suit which will attempt to turn the tables on Title IX is being brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation. According to USA Today and a handful of other sources, the PLF will file the suit in the District of Columbia's U.S. District Court and will do so on behalf of a group known as as the American Sports Council. The ASC was previously known as the College Sports Council.

The key argument in the PLF's case goes something like this: Because there are more than a million additional boys who compete in high school interscholastic sports than there are girls, attempts to enforce Title IX compliance will necessarily force reduction in the number of participating boys rather than the addition of girls.

That claim goes hand-in-hand with the growing reality that school budgets in many parts of the country are struggling to field any athletic programs at all. With shrunken budgets limiting the ability of different districts to field a variety of teams, the PLF suit is claiming that forcing through Title IX compliance will be a sort of death knell to robust sports offerings for both sexes.

"There have been a wave of copy cat complaints [since the NWLC legal complaint] where hundreds of schools have been challenged on proportionality," ASC chairman Eric Pearson told USA Today."We fear the increased threat of litigation will lead schools to really clamp down on [male] participation numbers to achieve a 50-50 balance."

Indeed, Prep Rally wrote about a Washington suit challenging some 100 school districts' Title IX compliance in June, and similar cases have been filed in Oregon and Idaho as well.

While the ASC is arguing that Title IX should not apply to high schools, it is not advocating for its elimination altogether. Rather, the organization claims that the law was written to benefit college athletics programs, citing Title IX's proportionality clause (which calls for a school's male and female athletic participation numbers to be directly proportional to its percentage of male and female students enrolled) as nearly impossible to enforce in modern high schools.

Not surprisingly, the NWLC argues vociferously against the premise that Title IX applies to colleges alone.

"Title IX applies to high schools and it applies to high school sports programs. The idea that high schools are different because their resources are limited just doesn't hold up," said Fatima Goss Graves, NWLC vice president for education and employment. "Any argument that girls need fewer opportunities in athletics is typically based on stereotypes that girls do not want to play.

"History has shown us that when you give girls the opportunity to play, they do play."

Want more on the best stories in high school sports? Visit RivalsHigh or connect with Prep Rally on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.