Parents filing Title IX complaints with the Office of Civil Rights might be the trend of the month.
In South Carolina, parents of a cheerleader at Lugoff-Elgin High School started wondering where the money allotted for cheerleaders was going when they were told the squad would not be able to replace their ten-year old uniforms.
Even attempts by the cheerleaders' parents to fund the new uniforms were rebuffed. So the Gogans, parents of LEHS cheerleader, started their own investigation and found that there was no money in the cheerleaders' account and no explanation of where it had gone.
First things first. This is very sketchy. There is clearly something amiss here.
And the Gogans were right to question what the heck has been going on.
But they filed the OCR complaint because they wanted an explanation and greater transparency regarding how the school treats its boys' sports versus its girls' sports. Except that it does not appear that cheerleading is a sport at LEHS. Yes, the squad does engage in competitive cheer competitions. But they also sideline cheer. Their dual purpose is apparent in what does and does not get covered by the fees students must pay to participate. The cost covers uniforms and poms but not sneakers; and cheerleaders need two pairs: one for competitions and one "to cheer in."
I know that cheerleaders and parents and probably every administrator at LEHS do consider it a sport because it is a South Carolina High School League sanctioned sport. And thus they have a right to question the distribution of funds and the quality of the experience cheerleaders have.
But the Department of Education has said that a sport cannot be a sport if it exists, even in part, to support another sport. What has happened at the intercollegiate level is that competitive cheer squads (or stunt squads or tumbling and acrobatics squads--depending on which side squads are choosing) are no longer cheering on the sidelines. Sideline cheerleaders are now a different group.
So what will OCR find when it goes to South Carolina? Will this even be an issue?
When will the rules at the intercollegiate level trickle down to high schools thus making high school state athletic associations take notice?