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Thursday, May 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘No Girls Allowed’ in High School Fieldhouse

LOUISVILLE (CN) - A school district spent $1 million tax dollars on a new fieldhouse, but there's "No Girls Allowed" - it has no locker room for girls, or even a girls' bathroom, high school students and their parents say. North Oldham High School in Goshen, Ky., spent the public money "strictly for the use of boys and boys' athletics," according to the federal complaint.

Two girls and their parents sued the Oldham County Board of Education, its Superintendent Paul Upchurch and North Oldham High School Principal Lisa Jarrett. Both girls run cross-country and track.

The School Board spent $1 million of public money on the fieldhouse, which was completed in October 2008.

"The Fieldhouse was constructed and designed strictly for the use of boys and boys' athletics," according to the complaint. "The Fieldhouse contains a locker room for football, shower and restroom facilities for boys only, offices for coaches of boys' sports only, a film and meeting room for use of boys and boys' sports only, a training room for use for boys' sports only, a laundry room used for boys' sports only, and even a separate locker room and shower/bathroom for use by visiting boys' teams.

"The Fieldhouse has no facilities for girls or for girls' athletics, and in fact does not even have a girls' or women's bathroom in it.

"The defendants have failed and refused to allow girls at North Oldham High School, including the minor plaintiffs, any use of the Fieldhouse, employing a 'No Girls Allowed' policy, except briefly during the spring, when the defendants allow the girls' track team to use the visiting boys' locker room. For the majority of the school year, girls are excluded from the Fieldhouse, and even the locker room for visiting football teams is off limits to girls, even though that visiting locker room is superior to any facility open to girls at North Oldham High School.

"Girls at North Oldham High School have for their use no facility equal or even remotely comparable to the Fieldhouse. [Plaintiffs] C.P.R. and L.J.W. and other girls on the cross-country team, for example, must change clothes in their coach's office closet or in the hallway or faculty bathrooms. This policy has created a situation in which girls are assigned and restricted to clearly inferior athletic facilities, because changing clothes in an office closet is simply not equal or even comparable to changing in a modern $1,000,000 Fieldhouse."

Parent-plaintiffs Richard F. Richards and Christine Wattley say the school and district violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

They seek an injunction requiring the school to "(a) cease and desist from all further discrimination against girls in the use of the Fieldhouse and any other facility; (b) build a comparable fieldhouse for girls' teams or retrofit the Fieldhouse to convert approximately one-half of its floor space for use by girls' athletics, including equal use of coaches offices, training rooms, and conference/film space; and (c) implement policies at North Oldham High School and throughout the school system that ensure future compliance with Title IX and similar laws."

The families are represented by E. Douglas Richards of Lexington.

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