Appeals Court ruling paves way for gender quotas in high school sports

By American Sports Counsil | Oct. 08, 2014, 2:50 p.m. (ET)
The American Sports Council (ASC) has warned for years that gender quota activists were setting their sights on applying Title IX's proportionality rule to high school sports. Now, with a recent federal court ruling, that day has come.

In a September 19, 2014 decision US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court judgment in the case Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District.

From the Ninth Circuit court’s decision:

“The Government’s position rejects Sweetwater’s argument that Title IX should be applied differently to high schools than to colleges, as well as the idea that the district court’s ‘substantial proportionality’ evaluation was flawed. We agree with the Government that the three-part test applies to a high school.”

Imposing Title IX’s proportionality test on high schools will have an even more devastating impact on scholastic sports than it has wrought on collegiate sports. In most high schools, the gender balance of students is essentially 50/50. Despite this, about 1.3 million more boys than girls participate in high school sports in the United States. For boys, interscholastic sports are their preferred choice of extracurricular activity.

Given that most high schools are under extraordinary financial pressures, the easiest way for any school to comply with Title IX's Three-Part Test will be to limit the number of boys who participate in sports in order to make the numbers balance. That will likely result in roster caps, and eventually, the outright elimination of many teams.

Back in 2011, the ASC sued the Department of Education to prevent the use of strict proportionality in Title IX at the high school level because it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In 2012, that complaint was dismissed, not on the merits, but based on the court's position that since the ASC did not suffer any injury due to the Three-Part Test's application to high school sports, that it did not have standing to sue.

The Ollier v. Sweetwater ruling represents only one Federal Circuit’s opinion, so it is important to challenge this decision in other Federal Circuits. The ASC will continue to advocate for reform of Title IX’s Three- Part Test so that young American athletes are not denied, on the basis of their gender, the educational benefits of athletic participation, but we need your help.

As a member of our athletic community, we ask that you please contact the ASC at http://americansportscouncil.org/contact/, if you learn of any high school using roster caps or team cuts in order to comply with Title IX.

-This is an opinion article from the American Sports Council.