Students suing Lake Oswego School District near Portland over girls’ access to sports programs and facilities are seeking to expand their case to a class action and have brought in a nonprofit that has enforced Title IX in K-12 districts across California.
The Fair Play project at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center is a leader in enforcing Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. In a San Diego County case in 2014, LAS-ELC won a unanimous federal appellate ruling clarifying the obligations under Title IX of high schools that receive federal funds. LAS-ELC has won settlements increasing equity in a number of additional California K-12 districts.
In attachments to a motion filed today in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., attorneys with LAS-ELC in San Francisco and Hiefield Foster & Glascock in Portland allege that Lake Oswego has denied girls hundreds of opportunities to play on sports teams and disregarded their right to equal treatment and programs.
“We’ve decided to make this a class action to protect the civil rights of all students at LOHS, including those in future classes,” said Kelsey Deos, 16, a junior and member of the girls’ softball team at Lake Oswego High School.
Girls account for 47.5 percent of the school’s student body but only 36.9 percent of its athletes. Girls across the school experience unequal supplies; practice and play times; locker rooms and other facilities; transportation; and coaching, according to the complaints in the case.
“This case exemplifies issues present in every region of the U.S.; gender discrimination occurs everywhere,” says Kim Turner, a senior staff attorney with Fair Play at LAS-ELC. “Fighting discrimination in sports is important because participation in school athletics correlates with improved lifelong outcomes, including lower substance abuse, greater mental and physical health, and higher salaries.”
Andrew Glascock with Hiefield Foster & Glascock is handling the case pro bono.
Turner said the ultimate goal in the case is injunctive relief in the form of equity for girls, as monetary damages are not being sought and institutional change is the key.
LAS-ELC delivers on the promise of justice for low-income people. LAS-ELC’s Fair Play project has litigated several Title IX matters, resulting in groundbreaking precedents, to ensure girls everywhere experience equity in school athletic programming. For details, please visit www.las-elc.org/fair-play-for-girls-in-sports and https://las-elc.org/ .