WASHINGTON (CN) – The American Sports Council claims the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX policies discriminate against boys and cost male athletes “tens of thousands of organized athletic opportunities at the collegiate level.”
“We are trying to prevent boys from being punished,” American Sports Council Chairman Eric Pearson told The Associated Press in announcing the lawsuit.
Pearson said that 1.3 million more high school boys than girls play organized scholastic sports, and applying a Title IX “proportionality test” would make high schools cut boys teams.
Pearson’s group asked the Department of Education in 2007 to declare that its three-part proportionality test not apply to high school sports. The Education Department refused the request in 2008. Now Pearson’s group wants to force the policy change.
The group recently changed its name from the College Sports Council, to “reflect a broader mandate,” Pearson said.
The ASC’s federal complaint challenges the Education Department’s refusal to repeal, amend, or clarify Title IX rules as they apply to high school athletics, claiming that the denial was arbitrary and capricious and violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The three-part “proportionality test” in the 1972 Title IX legislation requires schools to show that they comply with the law by demonstrating that its male and female athletes participate sports in proportion to their enrollment; show a pattern of expanding opportunities for girls; or show that girls’ interests in sports females have been met.
The ASC claims the three-part test has cost boys “tens of thousands of organized athletic opportunities at the collegiate level,” and will cost them sports and coaching jobs down the line.
Title IX has been widely praised as one of the nation’s major steps toward gender equality. Only 32,000 women played interscholastic college sports in 1972, on the eve of Title IX 1972; the number increased more than fivefold, to more than 166,000 in 2007, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Title IX also is credited with spurring interest in now wildly popular women’s soccer, at which U.S. teams have scored repeated international successes.
The ASC says in its complaint: “The Council fully embraces the intent of Title IX: to prohibit intentional discrimination based on sex, and eliminate from federally funded education all sex-based ‘quotas’ and ‘percentage balances. … The Council believes that the manner in which Title IX is now being enforced by the Department should be reformed, so that the law can continue to provide enforcement for eliminating intentional discrimination, but also so that agency interpretation no longer compels discriminatory quotas.”
The National Women’s Law Center scoffs at Pearson’s argument.
“Title IX does not require or encourage schools to cut any teams, and the Department of Education has stated that cuts are disfavored,” the National Women’s Law Center said in a handout for an April “webinar” on Title IX.
The ASC demands an injunction enjoining the Department of Education from enforcing the three-part test against high schools.
It is represented by Joshua Thompson of the Pacific Legal Foundation of Sacramento.