Gotta Get the Facts Right to Make a Valid Point

The National Women’s Law Center’s (NWLC) June fact sheet, “The Next Generation of Title IX: Athletics,” focuses on the differences in participation rates between boys and girls in elementary schools and high schools. The report ranks high schools according to the “percentage of high schools in the state reporting a participation gap of 10 percentage points or higher” and says that “Showing the percentage of girls enrolled is roughly equal to the percentage of athletes who are girls is on way that schools can demonstrate compliance with Title IX.”

There’s just one minor (okay, major) flaw with this assessment: The three-part test, which includes the proportionality prong described above, was not written to apply to high schools. As Pacific Legal Foundation Attorney Joshua Thompson wisely explains, “The three part-test, and its encouragement of quotas, has no relevance to high schools or high- school sports. No federal regulation has ever said that high schools must abide by the three-part test and the sex-based quota system it fosters.”

In 1979, the Department of Education’s (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued “A Policy Interpretation: Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics.” Intercollegiate athletic programs are the only kind mentioned in this regulation. Additionally, it specifies that one aspect of enforcement involves “Compliance Reviews – Periodically the Department must select a number of recipients (in this case, colleges and universities which operate intercollegiate athletic programs) and conduct investigations to determine whether recipients are complying with Title IX.”

And just in case it’s not clear enough, what does the Merriam Webster’s dictionary have to say about the definition of “intercollegiate”? It means “existing, carried on, or participating in activities between colleges.”

The next time the NWLC decides to file complaints against 12 more schools districts, or create rankings using the three-part test to assess compliance, it should remember that it’s only discrediting itself by ignoring federal regulations and potentially causing serious losses of opportunities for young male athletes.

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