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TribBlog: HISD Leaving Girls Sports Behind?

The largest school district in Texas isn't providing enough opportunities for high school girls to play sports, according to a Title IX complaint filed by the National Women's Law Center today.

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The Houston Independent School District isn't providing enough opportunities for high school girls to play sports, according to a Title IX complaint filed by the National Women's Law Center today. HISD — the largest in Texas — is among 12 other districts across the country the NWLC targeted with complaints.

Federal law prohibits federally funded education programs and activities, including sports, from discriminating on the basis of sex. Analyzing HISD data on girls' participation in athletics, the center found a 11.9 percent gap between the total number of female students and those playing sports, a statistic the NWLC says means schools in the district aren't providing equal opportunities for girls to participate in athletics programs. If they were, the complaint says, an additional 2,404 girls would currently be playing sports in the district.

In a press release, NWLC Co-President Marcia Greenberger called the 12 school districts the center filed complaints against today the "tip of the iceberg."

"Nationwide, only 41 percent of all high school athletes are girls, even though they make up half the student population," she said. "That means schools are giving girls 1.3 million fewer opportunities than boys to play sports nationwide."

Marmion Dambrino, HISD's athletic director, said the district will "work very closely" with the Office of Civil Rights to make sure it is in compliance with Title IX, but added that she believes "where the need is, we're providing."

"If there's an interest at a middle school or high school for our young ladies to participate in sports, we provide that," said Dambrino, who is HISD's first female athletic director. "It's an issue that's near and dear to my heart, being a former female athlete. I know it's important, because I know the opportunities it provides females."

The other school districts facing Title IX complaints from NWLC are Chicago Public Schools, the Clark County School District (Nev.), Columbus City Schools (Ohio), the Deer Valley Unified School District (Ariz.), Henry County Schools (Ga.), Irvine Unified School District (Calif.), the New York City Department of Education, Oldham County Schools (Ky.), the Sioux Falls School District (S.D.), the Wake County Public School System (N.C.) and Worcester Public Schools (Mass.).

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