Davis, CA — As part of a settlement with Davis Youth Softball Association (DYSA), the City of Davis (City) has agreed to address allegations of noncompliance with California State Law, specifically Assembly Bill 2404 (AB 2404 or the “Fair Play in Community Sports Act”) requiring gender equity in youth athletic programs. This resolution is a collaborative agreement between the City and DYSA, represented by two civil rights nonprofits, Legal Aid at Work and the California Women’s Law Center, and will help level the playing field in youth community-based athletics by providing equal athletic opportunities, treatment and benefits for young female athletes in Davis.
The Fair Play in Community Sports Act mandates gender equity in competitive youth sports administered or hosted by public agencies throughout the state, including parks and recreation districts. The law requires equity in opportunity—affording girls athletic slots proportional to their community representation and interests as well as gender equity in the treatment and benefits provided through publicly supported youth competitive sports.
Among other items, the City will make softball-oriented improvements to facilities, constructing shaded dugouts, providing quality spectator seating and installing portable restrooms and nearby drinking water stations. These improvements are already underway. DYSA will work collaboratively with the City to implement additional facilities improvements for girls’ softball, such as enhanced storage, nighttime lighting and concession stand installations. The City will also collect data on participation levels in youth competitive sports that the City runs or hosts to ensure every girl has an equal opportunity to play.
The City will track its steps to assess programs and promote gender equity and fair play. For example, the City will monitor funding; equipment; practice and game schedules; opportunities to receive coaching; coaching assignments and coach compensation; access to locations and facilities for games and practices; seasonal sport selection; publicity; and officiating by qualified and certified umpires, referees or judges. City staff has developed, and the City has approved, Gender Equity – Fair Play in Community Sports – Policies and Procedures, which includes policies for City staff and a grievance procedure for concerned community members.
“Equity and inclusion are critical to the well-being of our community,” said Councilmember Gloria Partida. “We have taken the time through these discussions to understand the underlying concerns brought forward by Davis Youth Softball Association and believe the changes we are implementing will benefit Davis girls.”
“The City recognizes the need to make improvements that will enhance and expand the playing opportunities for girls in youth softball in Davis,” said Mayor Lucas Frerichs. “We take the issue of equity for all our residents seriously – equity and access to services and activities are key principles for guiding our City Council decisions.”
DYSA President and civil rights ally Jennifer Martinez commented, “DYSA is thrilled to achieve this milestone recognition of the need for gender equality for our youth softball league. We have been formally working on this since October 2020 and are extremely grateful to our civil rights attorneys and to Jennifer Licciani, Stephanie Haro, Carson Wilcox, David Schapira, Steve DeHoff and the DYSA Board of Directors for their efforts to bring this to a conclusion we were hoping for.”
Elizabeth Kristen, senior staff attorney at Legal Aid at Work and director of Fair Play for Girls in Sports explained, “Ensuring gender equity in publicly-facilitated youth sports is the right thing to do. In addition to the health benefits of athletics, girls who play sports excel academically, and in the workplace as adults.”
“We are pleased that the City of Davis will take all necessary steps under the law to ensure that its youth are treated equally and that girls are provided the same opportunities to play community sports as boys,” said Harriet Fischer, staff attorney at California Women’s Law Center. “This agreement shows that the City of Davis prioritizes gender equity under the law and is committed to providing an equal athletic environment for its young girls.”
For more information about the settlement, visit: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/parks-and-community-services/forms-and-publications.
Davis Youth Softball Association
DYSA is a not-for-profit, recreational, and competitive fastpitch softball league for youths ages 4-1/2 to 16. DYSA enjoys the participation of nearly 300 girls at all skill levels during the spring, summer, and fall. The league’s mission is to have fun playing softball through balanced play promoted by positive coaching and good sportswomanship. We aspire to enable each child who wants to play softball the opportunity to do so. More information about DYSA can be found at https://davisyouthsoftball.org.
California Women’s Law Center
The California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) is a non-profit law and policy center whose mission is to create a more just and equitable society by breaking down barriers and advancing the potential of women and girls through impact litigation, policy advocacy and education. CWLC serves as an expert resource for girls, parents, coaches, administrators, and policy makers who want to ensure girls get their fair chance to play. We overwhelmingly focus our efforts on assisting low-income women and girls and communities of color. More information about CWLC’s work can be found at www.cwlc.org.
Legal Aid at Work
Legal Aid at Work (LAAW) is a nonprofit legal services organization that has been assisting low-income, working families for more than 100 years. Its programs conduct outreach, provide direct legal services to thousands of people each year, engage in litigation, and advocate for policies that strengthen the rights of low-income people. More information about Legal Aid at Work can be found at www.legalaidatwork.org.
LAAW’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports project spurs schools and parks and recreation departments to treat girls equally on and off the field. Focusing particularly on girls of color and girls who live in low-income communities, this work promotes the health, educational achievement, and future employment opportunities of girls in grades K-12. More information about Fair Play for Girls in Sports can be found at www.fairplayforgirlsinsports.org.