Sunday, November 28, 2010

First-Class Locker Rooms Remedy Title IX Violations at N.C. High Schools

Last year we blogged about Title IX violations at the high schools in New Hanover County, North Carolina -- in particular, the inequitable locker room facilities that had girls' teams doubling up and changing in the weight room, and the county's ongoing efforts to honor a 2008 compliance agreement with OCR. But today there's good news for the girls at Hoggard and Laney high schools, as the county purports to have completed all of the necessary renovations to comply with Title IX. Of the new, spacious girls' locker room with varnished wood lockers (a "carbon copy" of the existing boys' locker room), Hoggard girls' basketball coach Ray Beatty said,
Everyone that's been in there has been overwhelmed, especially the girls that have been with me for a while[.] It's more like a college atmosphere now than in the past. My girls probably just felt like second-class citizens because the boys had such nice facilities, but now they feel like first-class citizens.
To me, this quote epitomizes the intent and effect of Title IX, indeed, civil rights laws in general, and provides the most compelling counterargument to those who say the law is unnecessary and unimportant. No group should be stigmatized by second-class treatment. Discrimination in athletics, whether it be in the number of participation opportunities for each sex, or the quality of their playing fields and locker rooms, sends a clear message to students about whose athletic experience society appreciates, expects, and respects. It's obvious that they should be equal. It's not obvious why it takes government intervention to make schools realize that too, but until it is, Title IX is both necessary and important.