High School Athletics Accountability Act Could Encourage Gender Equality in High Schools

Categories: News, Women's Rights

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D. N.Y., and Sen. Olympia Snowe, D. Maine, have introduced the High School Athletics Accountability Act of 2009, which would significantly increase the effectiveness of Title IX protection in high school athletic departments.  

 Title IX of the Education Amendments, passed in 1972, has helped close the gap of inequality in resources given to men and women at all levels of education.  Though it prohibits gender discrimination in any educational programs that receive federal funding, its effects have been most noticeable in athletics.  Before 1972, only 2 percent of college athletes and 7 percent of high school athletes were female.  By 2001, those levels had increased to 43 percent and 41.5 percent, respectively. 

Increasing women’s participation is just one way to ensure gender equality.   Numerous studies show that women who participate in sports are more likely to do well in school, and less likely to use drugs.

Although the original law barred gender discrimination in education, it did not require schools to publish statistics showing whether they were complying.  In order to make the law more enforceable in college athletics, Congress passed the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act of 1994.  This law required colleges participating in intercollegiate athletics to report statistics to the public about how the institutions spent resources on their students, including a breakdown of spending by race, ethnicity, and sex. 

However, there is no federal law that requires high schools to report those statistics, so enforcement of Title IX is difficult in high school athletics.  The High School Athletics Accountability Act of 2009 would require athletic directors to publish these statistics, as well as information on the coaching staff they employ, the facilities they provide, and the schedules they offer teams. 

“It has been a significant drawback to Title IX enforcement that no such accountability requirement exists at the high school level. The Department of Education has not set forth regulations to guide the enforcement of Title IX in high schools, and these schools are not required to report opportunity and funding statistics to any higher authority. As a result, high school girls are being deprived of the critical opportunity to play sports,” said Lisa M. Maatz, director of public policy and government relations at the American Association of University Women, in a letter to the House of Representatives.