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ACLU Hawai‘i Demands Equal Facilities for Female Athletes

February 13, 2018, 8:18 AM HST · Updated February 13, 8:31 AM
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The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi Foundation sent a letter to the Hawaiʻi Department of Education demanding it take immediate action to address alleged sex discrimination against female athletes.

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Earlier this month, an article was published by Honolulu Civil Beat, highlighting the lack of separate athletic locker facilities for female athletes.  The report cited a 2016 Hawaii Department of Education statewide Master Plan for Athletic Facilities.

The demand letter cites multiple schools that currently do not have athletic lockers for female athletes, but do offer such facilities for male athletes.

ACLU Hawaiʻi director Joshua Wish said the DOE has had almost half a century to take care of equal access issues as outlined in Title IX legislation passed 45 years ago.

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Legal Director Mateo Caballero said the disparities described “are especially troubling” in light of 2010 litigation against the DOE and the County of Maui on behalf of three Baldwin High School softball players who wanted to play under conditions comparable to those of their male baseball counterparts.

“By now, we had hoped DOE would have made much more progress in addressing equality of athletic opportunity in its schools. However, it is clear that the immense gap still persists at the most basic level,” said Caballero.

The ACLU is demanding that the DOE begin taking immediate remedial steps.  If necessary, organization leaders say they are prepared to take legal action “to ensure that female athletes are no longer denied the equal opportunities afforded to them by federal and state law.”

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The letter demands full compliance with Title IX by the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. Specifically, it asks DOE to present a plan ensuring that all female athletes in DOE schools have access to facilities that are comparable to those given to male athletes. The ACLU demands state that the plan must also include the construction of girls’ athletic locker facilities in schools that do not have one; or alternatively, the plan may allow the alternating use of existing facilities equally.

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