Monday, August 20, 2007

Gymnastics teams loses their gym

News of this case came out at the beginning of the month when an attorney representing parents, a coach and the girls' athletic director filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Long Beach Unified School District alleging a Title IX violation. (The lawsuit also names the school board and two Wilson High School principals.)

The lawsuit was brought after officials at Wilson High School made the decision to convert the gym the gymnastics team had been using into a weight training and cardio room. Officials contend that the new fitness room can be used by a larger number of students. The space had been permanently allotted to the gymnastics team and their equipment, including a new spring floor. But those charging discrimination say the new room will primarily benefit the football team.

The gymnastic equipment is now located in two separate storage areas and the team will have access (but not unlimited) to a smaller gymnasium where they will have to set up and dismantle the equipment whenever they are allowed to use it.

The article linked above is a little vague about the actual violation. The attorney for the team says the move violates the criteria mandating "quality of competitive opportunity." But the description that follows describes proportionality. Also, there is a discussion of the demise of the sport because of the burden of having to set up and dismantle the equipment that will deter gymnasts and could contribute to injury. But this is solely speculation. The sport has not been eliminated by the school, though this article states that the plaintiffs believe the principals want to eliminate the team. Regardless of the intentions the move will negatively affect what had been a viable girls' program. And apparently Wilson High School already has some issues in the equitable distribution of opportunities.


Anonymous said...

Take a number; gymnastics is being strangled out of existance in public schools because it is what girls are interested in:



In the past four years prior to this action, Evergreen School District has not conducted annual evaluation of equal opportunity compliance for this factor as defined under WAC 392-190-[030|040]. In the mid-90’s the Evergreen School District voted with the Vancouver and Battle Ground School Districts to cut gymnastics from their athletic programs and removed and sold all gymnastics equipment from the two existing high schools, eliminating the availability of practice and competitive facilities for girls gymnastics within their schools. According to testimony by past Prairie High School Gymnastics Coach Don Freeman, a petition from concerned gymnastics parents, coaches, and students (approx. 300+ signatures), were presented to the school districts’ administrations in protest to the districts’ cutting girls gymnastics programs. Gymnastics was promptly restored by all three school districts. In between seasons in 1996, Gymnastics was summarily moved out of district high school buildings and outsourced to private gyms to make room for district wrestling and football programs, equipment, and dedicated practice facilities. District gymnastics programs have not been provided on campus gymnastics equipment and supplies since 1996, all of the district gymnastics equipment being sold at auction thereafter in 1997. Yet the district has historically maintained all wrestling equipment and dedicated practice facilities on every high school and middle school campus within the district. Although extensive square footage in gymnasium facilities was added after 1997 at Heritage High School, Cascade Middle School, Covington Middle School, Shahala Middle School, and Frontier Middle School, there were no equal opportunities provided for on campus gymnastics equipment, dedicated gymnastics facilities, or campus competitions for gymnastics as continue to be provided all wresting programs at all these and the other district schools per testimony by Mr. Reg Martinson, ESD Facilities Director.

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