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Toward Equal Opportunities for Girls in Sports
Excerpt from Daughters

by Neal Starkman

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What’s best for our daughters includes providing them with opportunities to pursue their interests. That’s evident when we see girls and women participating in sports.

Girls benefit immensely from athletics. Compared to girls who don’t participate in sports, females involved in athletics have higher self-esteem, fewer symptoms of stress and depression, and a reduced risk of obesity. Girls playing on teams learn how to set goals, collaborate with others, think strategically, and strive for excellence.

Passed in 1972, the federal Title IX law has helped girls throughout the country pursue athletic opportunities by banning discrimination based on sex in education—including school sports. In order to comply with Title IX, schools must afford female and male students equal opportunities to participate in athletics. And they must provide comparable treatment in areas such as locker rooms, equipment, schedules, publicity, coaching, and support services.

Since the passage of Title IX, the number of girls participating in high school sports has increased tenfold, from less than 300,000 to almost three million. Nonetheless, male athletes still enjoy many more opportunities. More slots are open for boys, and more operating money goes to boys’ athletics. Girls often have inferior equipment and supplies, use inferior sports facilities, and have fewer coaches, less desirable schedules, and less support and publicity for their activities.

Think about your daughter’s school:
1. Does it provide the girls’ teams with the same quality equipment and uniforms as the boys’ teams?
2. Are the size, location, and quality of gyms and playing fields comparable for girls and boys?
3.Do girls’ teams play games at times and on days that are as desirable as boys’ teams?
4.Overall, does your daughter’s school treat its female athletes fairly?
If your answers to these questions suggest that the boys have it better than the girls, you’re not alone. Despite the significant gains girls have made in school sports, much more still needs to be done.

The Women’s Sports Foundation supports students, parents, coaches, and administrators who advocate for equal treatment in athletics. The WSF website (www.womenssportsfoundation.org) features information about Title IX, a viral video, and a chance to share stories.

You can help advocate, too, by conducting a simple evaluation of your sports program, documenting disparities between boys’ and girls’ facilities, and bringing them to the attention of school officials. You can ask the cheer coach, the band director, and the editor of the school newspaper to give girls’ sports equal time. And you can write your legislators to ask them to support gender equity in sports. If you have questions, contact the Women’s Sports Foundation (www.womenssportsfoundation.org).

Title IX has brought us a long way, and girls and young women have made tremendous progress. But there’s still work to do. And you can do it.

Neal Starkman is a writer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. He holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and has written books, curricula, and essays. Neal lives in Seattle with his wife, Chris, and son, Cole.

© New Moon Girl Media. Reprinted with permission from www.daughters.com, the web’s best source of resources for parents and stepparents of girls and adults who work with girls.

About Daughters.com
Created exclusively for parents, grandparents and caregivers of girls ages 8-15, it’s where you find expert answers for all your questions about raising girls. Anchored by more than 250 articles on a variety of topics, from body image to building friendships and communicating successfully, you can connect with others who care about girls. Learn more at www.daughters.com.

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