Female high school athletes reach tentative settlement with Oregon school district
Lake Oswego School District near Portland, Oregon, has tentatively agreed to upgrade its high school girls’ softball area in line with the boys’ baseball area, add more opportunities for girls to play sports on par with boys’ offerings, and equalize athletic treatment and benefits experienced by female athletes so that Lake Oswego High School’s sports program is equitable under Title IX.
Specifically, the girls’ softball field will be turfed to allow all-weather play and the district will place an indoor hitting facility adjacent to the field along with a press box, concessions stand, and further amenities. Lake Oswego High also will add opportunities for girls in other sports to make their share of slots on teams more fair. Other changes include adjustments to practice and play for girls’ teams, availability of team and locker rooms, publicity and promotion of girls’ and boys’ teams, and apportionment of coaches. These changes will help ensure that girls’ sports and facilities at Lake Oswego High are equal to those long enjoyed by boys.
“We’re very glad the district and high school have come to the table to work with us on a solution to remove gender inequity to demonstrate their commitment to Title IX compliance for the sake of me and my teammates, and all girls of the school who wish to stand on a level playing field,” says Morgan Jones, 17, a rising senior and member of the girls’ softball team at Lake Oswego High School.
The tentative agreement comes just after a federal judge recommended that the group of10 girls and their parents who filed the lawsuit be allowed to seek to represent all female students at Lake Oswego High School through a class action.
The “Statement of Commitment” signed by plaintiffs and the district and ratified by the school board on July 17 will be followed by a fuller settlement agreement; the federal district court will retain jurisdiction over the matter for three years to ensure compliance; and a consultant and community task force will form to aid in implementation.
Legal Aid at Work’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project is a leader in enforcing Title IX of the Civil Rights Act to achieve equity in school sports programs so girls enjoy the lifelong benefits of participation — including improved physical and mental health, better outcomes in academics and in the workplace as adults.
“With Title IX turning 45 last month, we’re pleased to see the district recognize this federal mandate in its actions to treat all female high school students on par with their male peers,” says Kim Turner, a senior staff attorney with Legal Aid at Work. “School and district leaders are now sending girls the clear message that they are equally important as the boys and deserve the same quality and quantity of fields, gym spaces, team rooms, locker rooms, equipment, supplies, and more; this is a step toward ensuring that gender equity takes a permanent hold not only in our schools, but throughout society.”
“It’s been a long time coming, and our girls bravely pursued these changes over the last year for themselves and all girls at the high school. We will be thrilled to see our daughters on their own turf field next season and look forward to future Lake Oswego High girls playing at the new softball complex in the spring of 2019 — a place they can finally feel proud,” adds Kelly Deos, father to Kelsey Deos, 17, a rising senior softball player.
Legal Aid at Work delivers on the promise of justice for low-income people. Our project Fair Play for Girls in Sports has litigated several Title IX matters, setting precedents that will help ensure girls everywhere experience equity in school athletic programming. Details: www.legalaidatwork.org and www.legalaidatwork.org/fairplay
Glascock, Street, Waxler LLP (formerly Hiefield Foster & Glascock)
Andrew Glascock, partner with Glascock, Street, Waxler LLP, is handling the case pro bono. Andrew is a local resident in Lake Oswego, he coaches his daughter’s club softball team, the Renegades, for which he is also a board member, and his children attend Lake Oswego School District schools.