WASHINGTON – Girls who attend D.C. Public Schools are lacking opportunities to participate in competitive sports, lack equipment, coaches and are systematically underserved compared to boys, according to a formal complaint filed against the school district.
The National Women’s Law Center filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights charging that girls’ participating in sports is 10 to 26 percent lower than boys’ participation in most of the District’s 15 high schools. In a statement, the law center said DCPS is not “fulfilling its obligation to give girls in the nation’s capital an equal chance to reap the benefits of playing sports that extend far beyond the playing field.”
“Public schools are not providing equal opportunities for girls to play sports,” says Neena Chaudhry with the center. “We’ve heard from many, many parents that girls are getting the short end of the stick.”
Chaudhry says there is a clear disparity in the level of funding and participation in high school athletics, which violates Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.
According to the complaint, deficiencies include a lack of teams, less qualified coaches and a lack of adequate facilities for girls.
DCPS issued a statement to WTOP, saying officials are proud of steps they have taken to create opportunities for female athletes.
“Over the past several years, we have pursued an aggressive agenda to help ensure our female student-athletes are able to compete in a variety of athletics,” according to DCPS.
The law center said DCPS does not offer competitive swimming and only some schools offer tennis and soccer teams for girls. Roosevelt High School eliminated the girl’s basketball team after its coach left and the new coach did not have time to recruit players.
The center also accused DCPS of providing uniforms that are passed down from year to year and noted one team kept jersey numbers on using duct tape. The girls’ fields lack lighting, are not well-maintained and are not easily accessible by Metro, unlike the boys’ fields.
For decades, enrollment at DCPS schools has shrunk. But the past four school years, schools have gained students, mostly among charter schools. The enrollment changes have triggered school closures.