Cheerleading and Dance Don't Count in Title IX

The Title IX complaints keep coming.  This time, Idaho has been accused of violations in 100 high schools across 78 school districts.  The problem?  Not enough girls playing competitive sports.

Any school that receives federal funding is required to provide equal athletic and educational opportunities.  More than half of the districts in Idaho have been noted to be in violation for female student-athletes.  Additionally, the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education states that these school districts have a disproportinately small number of female student-athletes compared with the total number of females in the schools.  Finally, the schools are counting young ladies who choose to dance or cheer. According to the federal rules, these are not considered sports because each needs coaches, practices and competitions during a defined season, a governing organization and competition as the primary goal.  So much for supporting your team.  You can cheer or dance, but the school gets no credit under Title IX.

In order to be fully compliant with Title IX, schools must do one of the following:

- ensure that female athletic participation is in proportion to the total female enrollment;

- demonstrate a history of expanding athletic opportunities for young ladies; or

- provide that they are meeting the athletic interests and abilities of female students.

"We have all the confidence in our schools to do the right thing," said John Billetz, executive director of the Idaho High School Activities Association.  "We will be compliant and do what needs to be done to get compliant if need be."

Other western states which have found themselves in similar trouble include Oregon and Washington.  The Office of Civil Rights is investigating in Washington and will soon decide if there is enough information to move forward with a formal proceeding in Oregon.