The parents of six Utah high school students have filed a lawsuit on Friday against three school districts due to the lack of girls’ football teams.
The lawsuit claims that the Jordan, Cayons and Granite school districts discriminated against female high school students and is in violation of federal Title IX by not providing them a women’s football team.
Title IX protects students against gender discrimination, stating that no one in the United States will be excluded, denied or be subjected to discrimination under any education program of activity that receives federal funding.
The lawsuit states, “[The] districts fail to provide equal treatment and benefits to girls as they do boys because [the] districts give boys the right and opportunity to use the high school football fields, stadiums, facilities, but do not provide girls the same treatment and benefits.”
They are also suing the Utah High school Activities Association and the superintendents of each district.
Ben Horsley, spokesman for Granite School District, said Monday to the Salt Lake Tribune, that the district had received the Title IX complaint and feels “comfortable” that it is providing the “appropriate amount of school activities for our students, regardless of their gender.”
“We work closely with the High School Activities Association to identify athletic opportunities for both genders,” he said. “If there were sufficient interest in a female-only football league and it were sanctioned by the High School Activities Association, we would have no issue in providing such a program. But that is not currently the case.”
Horsley said that the district adjusts its athletics according to interest. And that there are “less than a handful” of female students who have participated in boy’s football teams.
Despite Horsley’s claims that there is a lack of substantial interest, one of the high school students have proven that there are actually many girls who want to participate in the sport.
This student helped form the Utah Girls Tackle Football League in 2015 and within a week of the league opening, 50 girls had registered, according to the suit. Participation only grew as the years went on and by 2017, 200 girls had joined.
Herriman High School — in the Jordan School District — had approved a girl’s football club earlier this year. 50 girls who attended the orientation signed a form stating they’d like to learn more about girls’ football, the suit says.
However, this wasn’t enough. The girls don’t just want to be demoted to a club; they want a full sports team with the same benefits as the ones boys have access to.
The girls would rather play for high school teams than for recreational teams, the parents write in the suit, because they’d have the support of cheerleaders and could earn accolades that are considered by colleges.
They also could compete for regional and state championships, earn school credit for physical education classes, and could have their accomplishments documented by school and local newspapers, the suit says.