Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) turned fifty this year. Despite tremendous progress for women and girls over the last five decades, the promise of gender equity in athletics remains elusive, especially at the K-12 level. Unlike so many other civil rights laws passed in the 1960s and 1970s, Title IX remains a highly under-litigated and underenforced statute. A basic Westlaw search for “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” yields more than 10,000 federal cases. But the same search for “Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972” yields about 2500 cases. Only a small fraction of those cases (about 300) include the word “athletics,” and fewer still address gender inequity at the K-12 level. This Article provides a brief overview of the “state of play” concerning gender inequity in athletics and the basic structure of Title IX athletics equity law. It then considers the Ollier v. Sweetwater high school Title IX athletics case and lessons learned from that hard-fought litigation on behalf of a class of high school girls that sought to level the playing field at their school. It then makes nine recommendations for what changes should be made to our approach to Title IX athletics at the K-12 level to ensure more effective enforcement to achieve gender equity. Inequalities in athletics at the K-12 level require litigation and policy changes that will have substantial and positive impacts on the lives of girls and young women.
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