National Women's Law Center files federal complaint against Irvine Unified over girls' sports

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The National Women’s Law Center has filed a federal complaint against a dozen school districts across the country, including Irvine Unified. The lawsuit alleges that they failed to provide high school girls with equal opportunities to play sports.

Competitive high school sports improve health, provide leadership skills and help open doors to future educational opportunities. The federal government compels school districts to provide or work toward offering girls the same opportunities to compete as boys have.

Using 4-year-old data, the Women’s Law Center argues that three of Irvine Unified’s four schools indicated a large gap between the percentage of girls enrolled and the percentage of girls in competitive sports. That's a big problem, the center says, because that left out 700 girls each year from high school sports.

The goal is not to create mirror sports like girls football, they say – it’s about these and other districts measuring girls' interest and providing sports such as field hockey, gymnastics or badminton. And that’s not happening.

The National Women’s Law Center is calling on civil rights investigators in the U.S. Department of Education to look into girls' sports and confirm violations so the school districts might fix the problem.

An Irvine official claims the district offers many extracurricular programs, so it’s understandable that fewer girls participate in sports.