Making Sure High Schools Play Ball With Girls

Most feminists seem well aware of the strides women athletes have made since the inception of Title IX in 1972: Participation by girls and women in school sports has since gone up by 904 percent for high school girls and by 456 percent for young women in college. It’s certainly worth celebrating that today–the 25th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. But, according to Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., we can’t become complacent about women’s sports; we must remain vigilant if we want to keep making progress.

Slaughter has introduced H.R. 458, the High School Athletics Accountability Act, because statistics show that, despite Title IX, high school girls still receive fewer opportunities to play sports than high school boys. She said:

While we have made significant strides towards equity in athletics, we must continue to monitor our progress and ensure that our nation’s young women have the rights and opportunities they deserve. High school girls still receive 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play sports than high school boys. It’s high time we corrected this inequity.

Colleges are required to make gender equity statistics publicly available each year, but high schools don’t have to–making it difficult to ensure that schools are following equity rules. H.R. 458 would require high schools to report basic data on the number of female and male students in their athletic programs as well as the expenditures made for each sports team.

Slaughter, a feminist who has addressed sexual assault of women in the military among other key women’s issues, first introduced the High School Athletics Accountability Act in 2004. It’s unfortunately died in each of the last four Congresses, 108th through 111th. So urge your representatives to get the ball rolling on this legislation, once and for all!

And to further celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day, go watch women athletes compete at your local high school or college–or on TV. Basketball season is in full gear, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a game!

Above: Bowling Green Booster Club Red & Black Kick Off. Photo courtesy of Flickr user under CC2.0

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The late Michele Kort—a dedicated feminist—was the senior editor of Ms. magazine for 13 years. She died June 26, 2015, after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She worked for decades in field of journalism, covering sports, music, culture, art and feminist issues for publications like LA Weekly, The Advocate, Shape, Redbook, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Songwriter, InStyle, Living Fit, Fit Pregnancy, Vegetarian Times, Fitness, UCLA Magazine, Women's Sports and Fitness and more. She is the author of four books, including a biography of singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro. Rest in power, Michele.