Girls and boys play differently in Evansville. The Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation was recently found to have disparities between athletic opportunities for boys and girls.
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights randomly chose the corporation to be evaluated. There had been no complaints against the corporation.
Title IX states, “no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, treated differently from another person or otherwise be discriminated against in any intercollegiate, interscholastic, club or intramural athletics offered by a recipient, and no recipient shall provide any such athletics separately on such basis.”
As part of the evaluation, the OCR gathered data about the 2010-11 school year, toured facilities and interviewed staff members. At the time, the five high schools that offered interscholastic athletic opportunities had boys baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and wrestling. Girls were offered softball, basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and
The corporation offered every interscholastic sport at a varsity level for which there is an Indiana High School Athletics Association championship tournament for boys and all IHSAA sports with a championship tournament for girls, except gymnastics, because the corporation said there is a lack of interest. According to an EVSC press release, only 86 of 408 IHSAA schools offer gymnastics.
In a letter written to EVSC Superintendent David Smith,the OCR found that during the 2010-11 school year, girls made up 50.1 percent of students, but only 36.4 percent of the athletes. The OCR believed this difference represented 600 athletics opportunities not available to girls.
“The corporation did not identify any current plan to add a girls’ interscholastic athletic team in the future or to expand any of its existing girls’ interscholastic athletic teams, though it expressed a willingness to do so if the opportunity presented itself,” OCR Acting Director Adele Rapport said in a letter to Smith.
The OCR concluded that the corporation did not meet the requirement of a “history and continuing practice.”
The corporation is required to send the OCR their first monitoring report by April 26.
“The EVSC wants to offer the best opportunities for all of our students and we know what positive outcomes athletics can have,” EVSC
Director of Athletics and Chief Administrative Officer Paul Neidig said in a press release. “We look at this as an opportunity to do things even better. We certainly would like to see more girls take advantage of athletic activities.”
The corporation is planning to send out a survey to all female students in grades eight to 11 to see if there are any new sports they wish to be offered. They will also create a way for community members to ask for additional sports or levels of sports at each high school. If the students want additions, those will take place once others in the Evansville region agree to compete with the corporation.
The corporation will also take time to make updates to girls’ locker rooms and athletic facilities if there are any disparities.
— Sydney Murray
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