(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 for Civil Rights (OCR) entered an agreement with the Chicago Public Schools—the largest school district in the state—to ensure that it provides girls with equal opportunities to play sports consistent with Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded schools. The investigation revealed significant disparities in the district’s 98 high schools. These gaps represent a total of 6,200 additional spots on teams needed to level the playing field for female students.
“Today’s resolution of our complaint confirms the Center’s conclusion that the schools’ own data demonstrate widespread disparities in athletic opportunities for thousands of girls,” said Fatima Goss Graves, NWLC Vice President for Education and Employment. “This finding sends a crystal clear message that the district must do more to give girls equal chances to reap the valuable benefits of playing sports that extend far beyond the playing field. Numerous studies show that girls who participate in sports attain higher academic achievement, experience lower teenage pregnancy rates and have overall better health. The Center’s findings and OCR’s investigation underscore the urgency of treating girls fairly and putting these schools on the path toward compliance with Title IX. It’s time to level the playing field and give girls the athletic opportunities they deserve.”
Under this agreement with OCR, the Chicago Public Schools will create a new database to document the “real-time” participation of students in the interscholastic athletics program. This database will allow OCR to verify the District’s reported participation data throughout the monitoring. The District will also add participation opportunities at a minimum of 12 high schools beginning as early as fall 2015. Based on a comprehensive assessment of the interests and abilities of the students, the district will add new sports, levels of competition or squads each season until each high school has demonstrated compliance with Title IX. The agreement requires compliance to be demonstrated no later than the 2018-19 school year.