Oakland Unified School District settles legal dispute over gender inequity in its girls’ athletic programs

Bay Area

Oakland Unified School District

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — The Oakland Unified School District and the Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project of Legal Aid at Work entered a settlement agreement addressing gender inequity in the districts interscholastic sports program.

The agreement will include a three-year monitoring term and will bring significant changes to help provide equal athletic opportunities, treatment and benefits for female students attending OUSD schools offering interscholastic athletic programs.

“We look forward to continuing to partner with OUSD in coming years to help girls
experience equity in school athletics,” Director of Legal Aid at Work’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project, Kim Tuner said.

“Girls of OUSD not only will get equal chances to play as a result of this Agreement, but also will receive the many lifelong benefits associated with athletics participation: higher grades and graduation rates, better health, and higher wages as adults.”

Nonprofit Legal Aid at Work sent a letter to OUSD on behalf of girls and parents alleging that the administration of OUSD’s athletic program violated OUSD’s obligations under Title IX — a 50-year-old federal law requiring gender equity in education, including in K-12 athletics.

In response, OUSD and Legal Aid at Work have been working together with key stakeholders toward ensuring girls have the equal opportunity to play and receive the equal treatment and benefits as student-athletes.

The three-year monitoring period run through June 2023 and applies to all OUSD schools with any form of interscholastic competitive athletics at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools — at the end of the monitoring term OUSD will afford girls the equal opportunities to play sports.

In addition, the agreement also requires equalizing the amenities girls experience when playing sports in accordance with the law.

The Title IX complaint and anti-retaliation policy measures are further included in the agreement to protect those reporting gender inequity issues throughout the district.

OUSD will conduct annual surveys of female students to determine what athletic opportunities the district should offer to meet the interests of girls — a provision in line with existing Title IX guidance.

The district has since hired a Title IX expert-consultant to help examine athletic programming throughout the district to ensure gender equity issued are properly addressed.

The settlement agreement between Legal Aid at Work and OUSD comes on the eve of the 48th anniversary of Title IX.

The Fair Play for Girls in Sports project is focused on ensuring girls of color and girls of low-income communities can experience equal opportunities in athletics.

Recent data shows OUSD is comprised of over 30,000 students with approximately 15,00 girls and students of color representing 88.3 percent of its student population.

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