Title IX Claim against Pasadena Unified School District Settles

Title IX Claim against Pasadena Unified School District Settles

Girls Now Have Real Options for Sports Participation 

For Immediate Release

Date:  June 17, 2014

Sara Feldman, Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center – sfeldman@las-elc.org, 617-276-5632
Vicky Barker, California Women’s Law Center – vicky.barker@cwlc.org, (323) 951-9276

LOS ANGELES, CA. – Today, the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC), the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC) and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Simpson Thacher) settled a Title IX claim against Pasadena Unified School District after the District agreed to expand access to athletic opportunities for girls.

The claim was brought on behalf of middle school girls who were denied access to interscholastic sports. The District’s PasadenaLEARNs program offered athletic opportunities to boys, such as flag football, but girls were not provided with comparable opportunities. Now those girls will be able to participate, as Pasadena Unified and the interscholastic sports program they operate added basketball and soccer programs for girls, and may also add girls’ volleyball in the fall.

“PasadenaLEARNs is advertised as including a ‘co-ed’ sports league and now comes closer to living up to this promise,” said Elizabeth Kristen, Senior Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. “In a district where girls make up 48.9% of the population, only 10% of the LEARNs sports participants were girls at the middle school level. We are heartened to see that Pasadena Unified will now provide real options for middle school girls to participate in athletics.”

“I was disappointed when I found out that I couldn’t play basketball because there was no girls’ team”, said Sophie Lindsay, one of the Pasadena Unified students affected by this violation of the law. “Playing sports is important to me, and I couldn’t believe that my only option was to cheer for the boys. When I learned they were starting a girls’ basketball team, I was excited! I knew that you have to speak up when you know something is wrong, but I have always struggled with it. I’m proud that I did speak up because girls are just as important as boys.”

“I am extremely encouraged to see that the injustice occurring at Pasadena Unified and PasadenaLEARNs has been rectified without the need for legal action,” said Vicky Barker, Legal Director of the California Women’s Law Center.  “Girls who would like to play interscholastic sports had been suffering unlawful gender-based discrimination and will now have the equal access they are guaranteed by the law. Following this settlement, the district has now demonstrated a good-faith effort to ensure that girls can play sports.”

“Title IX was passed more than forty years ago, so it is truly unacceptable to find that schools are still discriminating against girls in sports,” said Jayma Meyer, of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. “We know that girls who participate in sports at an early age are more likely to be successful in school and in their careers. The expansion of the PasadenaLEARNs program promises to set up a new generation of girls to succeed in their educational and athletic careers.”

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Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center
The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center protects the rights and economic self-sufficiency of low-income workers and their families throughout the Bay Area, California, and nationwide. Within LAS-ELC, Fair Play for Girls in Sports aims to ensure that girls in grades K-12 participate equally in school and community sports so they may reap the lifelong rewards of athletic involvement. For more information, visit www.las-elc.org

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is one of the world’s leading international law firms. The Firm was established in 1884 and has more than 850 lawyers in 11 global offices.  Simpson Thacher has an abiding commitment to public service and devotes tens of thousands of hours each year to pro bono projects.  For more information, please visit www.stblaw.com.

The California Women’s Law Center
The California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) breaks down barriers and advances the potential of women and girls through transformative litigation, policy advocacy and education.  Founded in 1989, CWLC focuses on the following issue areas: gender discrimination, women’s health, violence against women, reproductive justice and the unique concerns of women veterans.  CWLC continues to be a leader in Title IX enforcement in California schools.  For more information please visit www.cwlc.org/dev2019 and follow CWLC on twitter @CWLC_la .