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Legal Resources | Education Code |  EC  66271.6  

Sex Equity in Education Act; Prohibition of Discrimination; Athletics   

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The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) On June 23, 1972, Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This landmark legislation provides that: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

(b) While Title IX applies to all aspects of educational opportunities, it is well-known for opening the door to athletics for girls and women.

(c) In 1975, the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare enacted regulations requiring that secondary and postsecondary schools comply with Title IX immediately. Those that could show real barriers to immediate compliance had just three years to meet the regulations, including equalizing their athletic programs.

(d) California state law has included several athletic equity provisions similar to those in Title IX since 1976. For example, the Sex Equity in Education Act provides, in subdivision (a) of Section 221.7, that: "It is the intent of the Legislature that opportunities for participation in athletics be provided equally to male and female pupils." Similar provisions are expressly applicable to community colleges and the California State University.

(e) Enhancing athletic opportunities for young women and girls is vitally important because of the significant benefits athletic opportunities provide including greater academic success, better physical and psychological health, responsible social behaviors, and enhanced interpersonal skills. For some women and girls, the financial support made available through athletic scholarships can make it possible to attend college.

(f) Title IX has promoted significant advances for women and girls to participate in sports. While fewer than 32,000 women participated in college sports nationally prior to the enactment of Title IX, today approximately 163,000 women participate--a nearly five fold--or more than 400 percent increase. Athletic opportunities for girls at the high school level nationally have grown even more dramatically--from 294,000 in 1972 to 2,800,000 today--an 894 percent increase. California boasts the second highest number of high school girls participating in athletics nationwide--a total of 270,000 girls in California's high schools now participate in interscholastic athletics.

(g) Men's intercollegiate athletic participation has also increased, rising from approximately 220,000 in 1981-82 to approximately 232,000 in 1998-99. Between 1981-82 and 1998-99, football participation increased by 7,199; men's participation in baseball, lacrosse, and soccer also increased during the same time period. High school boys' participation rates have also increased--jumping 8.2 percent in the last three years in California.

(h) The dramatic increases in participation rates at both the high school and college levels since Title IX was passed show that when doors are opened to women and girls, they will rush through. Courts have repeatedly recognized that it is unfounded and unlawful to claim that women and girls are less interested in sports than men and boys. As one court stated, "interest and ability rarely develop in a vacuum; they evolve as a function of opportunity and experience . . ." (Cohen v. Brown University (1st Cir. 1996) 101 F.3d 155, 179). Accordingly, courts have repeatedly rejected arguments that the assessed interest level of girls in athletics should determine Title IX compliance (Neal v. California State University (9th Cir. 1999) 198 F.3d. 763, 767). Thus, interest surveys cannot accurately determine whether an educational institution has effectively accommodated the interests and abilities of female students.

(i) The United States Department of Education uses a three-part test adopted in 1979 to determine whether an educational institution has met the key Title IX requirement that a school "effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes" when it comes to athletic participation. All three prongs of the test have been used successfully by schools to comply with Title IX, and have given schools flexibility in structuring their athletic programs. The three-part test neither imposes quotas or requires preferential treatment, nor requires mirror-image men's and women's sports programs. The lawfulness of the three-part test has been affirmed by every federal appellate court to consider the issue.

(j) Despite major advances in athletic opportunities for females since 1972, discrimination still limits athletic opportunities for girls and women at all educational levels today. For example, although women in Division I colleges are 53 percent of the student body, they receive only 41 percent of the opportunities to play sports, 36 percent of the overall athletic operating budgets, and 32 percent of the dollars spent to recruit new athletes.

(k) In California, the percentage of female athletes at California State University (CSU) campuses actually declined from 36 percent in 1977 to 30 percent in 1990. In 1993, California National Organization for Women (Cal NOW) filed suit against the CSU system alleging violations of California's gender equity in athletics law. Ultimately, CSU and Cal NOW entered into a consent decree focusing on participation, expenditures, and grants-in-aid for women athletes. As a result of the consent decree, women now comprise over 52 percent of CSU athletes, expenditures on women's sports have increased 315 percent in the last 10 years and grants-in-aid for female athletes have increased 232 percent during the same time period.

(l) Despite major gains for women under California and federal law, inequities in the treatment of men's and women's and boys' and girls' athletic teams at some educational institutions remain. These inequities include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

(1) Participation rates for women and girls.

(2) Number of sports offered.

(3) Number of levels of teams.

(4) Encouragement by spirit and band groups.

(5) Facilities.

(6) Locker rooms.

(7) Scheduling of games and practice times.

(8) Level of financial support by the district, school, booster club or clubs, and outside sponsors.

(9) Treatment of coaches.

(10) Opportunities to receive coaching and academic tutors.

(11) Travel and per diem allowance.

(12) Medical and training facilities and services.

(13) Housing and dining facilities and services.

(14) Scholarship money.

(15) Publicity.

(m) Educational institutions at all levels are strongly encouraged to take immediate active steps toward full compliance with Title IX and California's gender equity in athletics laws by reviewing all aspects of their athletic program, including those factors listed in subdivision (l) where appropriate, to ensure that they are offering male and female student athletes equivalent opportunities to play sports and that they are treating male and female athletes fairly. The need to encourage and increase athletic participation by girls and women is especially strong at educational institutions serving inner-city and urban communities. Full compliance with Title IX is nondiscretionary.

(Added by Stats. 2003, Ch. 660, Sec. 2.)

Reference:

Education Code 221.7