LHSAA Director's Column: Title IX provides equal opportunities to all

Kenny Henderson
Kenny Henderson, LHSAA Executive Director

Part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was revised under the Education Amendments of 1972, guaranteeing 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 education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Although most people will recognize this as Title IX – the law that provided equal opportunities for women in collegiate athletics – it applies to nine other key areas in federally-supported education as well. And while most will associate Title IX with collegiate athletics, the legislation has had a titanic and pervasive impact on high school athletics as well.

Under the protections afforded by Title IX, schools must make an equal number of opportunities available to both male and female athletes wishing to join an athletic program. The law also requires equal treatment in the provision of equipment, uniforms and supplies; scheduling of games and practice times; access to tutoring, locker rooms and practice and competitive facilities; and medical and support services, among others.

Before Title IX was established, female student-athletes were limited in their abilities to participate, usually only in activities such as cheerleading or dancing. On average, only one in every 27 high school girls actually played sports. Colleges allotted virtually no scholarship money to women, and, on average, only 2 percent of schools’ athletic budgets were used for female teams.

The effects of Title IX have been staggering. Today, one out of every 2.5 female student-athletes in high school play or have played varsity sports. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), there are more than 3 million female student-athletes nationwide, making up more than 40 percent of all high school student-athletes. This is an increase of nearly 2.9 million student-athletes from the 1972 statistics.

Title IX has not only had a visible impact on participation levels, but also on the quality of programs, facilities and equipment for female high school sports, as well as financial equality. While Title IX is indeed still a work in progress, we have seen drastic improvement made to facilities for softball, volleyball and other women’s sports, as well as parity in financial investments in women’s programs and salaries for women’s coaching staffs.

We at the LHSAA are committed to upholding and enforcing the equity called for under Title IX for more than 40,000 female student-athletes in our state. It is our desire that high schools across Louisiana will continue to develop under these rules and provide equal opportunities and programs for all student-athletes.