Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi Foundation (“ACLU of Hawaiʻi”) has sent a letter to the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (“DOE”) demanding it take immediate action to cease sex discrimination against female athletes in DOE schools.
On February 7, 2018, Honolulu Civil Beat released an article titled, Female Athletes Get the Short End of the Stick at Some Hawaii High Schools, highlighting the lack of separate athletic locker facilities for female athletes. More than 16,000 female athletes participated in sports last year and the demand letter cites multiple schools that currently do not have athletic lockers for female athletes even though these same schools do have such facilities for male athletes.
Executive Director Joshua Wisch said: “Hawaii's own Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink helped write Title IX more than 45 years ago. By law, the DOE must provide our female athletes equal access to facilities and programs as male athletes. We understand it can be difficult to prioritize projects, but the DOE has had almost half a century to take care of this. Legal and constitutional mandates cannot be relegated to a ‘wish list.’”
Legal Director Mateo Caballero said: “The disparities described in the article are especially troubling in light of our 2010 litigation against the DOE and the County of Maui on behalf of three Baldwin High School softball players who simply wanted to play ball 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. Thus, we demand that DOE begin taking remedial steps immediately. If necessary, we 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.”
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 plan must also include the constructions of girls’ athletic locker facilities in schools that do not have one. Alternatively, the plan may allow the alternating use of existing facilities equally.
The letter can be found here (PDF, 279 KB): ACLU Hawaiʻi DOE Title IX Demand Letter
The mission of the Hawaiʻi affiliate of the ACLU is to protect the civil liberties contained in the state and federal constitutions through litigation, legislative and public education programs statewide. The ACLU is funded primarily through private donations and offers its service at no cost to the public. The ACLU does not accept any government funds.