Posted on July 2, 2012 Issues: Athletics Education & Title IX

OCR’s investigation finds district-wide underrepresentation of girls in sports.


(Washington, D.C.) In response to a complaint filed by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) in 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has found that girls in the Deer Valley Unified School District (AZ), the Wake County (N.C.) Public Schools, Columbus City Schools and Houston Independent School District are underrepresented in athletics programs, with district-wide disparities of 11-14 percentage points between girls’ enrollment and the share of athletic participation opportunities provided to them. These gaps represent a total of 6,433 additional opportunities needed to level the playing field for female students.

Under the agreements with OCR, the four school districts will conduct comprehensive assessments to determine whether female students’ interests in playing sports are being met.  The assessments will be based on multiple indicators of interest and will include a survey of girls in 8th through 12th grades, their participation in club, intramural and recreational sports offered in the district’s region, and identification of sports not offered by the district but offered by other schools in the same competitive region.  The four Districts are required to report their findings to OCR and to add opportunities for girls based on the assessments in the upcoming school years.

The following is a statement from Marcia D. Greenberger, National Women’s Law Center Co-President:

“The resolution of these four complaints confirms NWLC’s findings that the schools’ own data demonstrate widespread disparities in opportunities. The many benefits of girls’ participation in sports go beyond even the playing field and lead to higher academic achievement and graduation rates, lower teenage pregnancy rates, and overall better health. Our findings and OCR’s investigation underscore the urgency to treating girls fairly and putting these schools on the path toward compliance with Title IX.  In the fortieth year of this landmark law, it is past time to give girls equal chances to reap the many benefits of playing sports.”