'Unequal treatment’: Athletes file class action over lack of girls’ facilities, opportunities at Hawaii schools

'Unequal treatment’: Athletes file class action over lack of girls’ facilities, opportunities at Hawaii schools
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Vorsino, Mary)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Athletes at Campbell High have filed a federal class action lawsuit over a lack of girls' sports facilities and opportunities at Hawaii high schools.

The students are claiming unequal treatment of girls' athletic programs, which would be a violation of Title IX. The landmark federal legislation, among other things, prohibits gender inequality in schools and universities.

“The female athletes in Hawaii schools simply can’t wait any longer," said Joshua Wisch, executive director for ACLU of Hawaii. "The message they’re hearing from the Department of Education is that they’re not as important as the boys and that stops now.”

[Also read: Suit: Public schools ‘deliberately’ indifferent to bullying victims]

The suit, filed with the assistance of ACLU, alleges that female athletes at Campbell High are forced to change in teachers' closets, in the bathroom at the nearest Burger King, and even on the practice field.

To go to the bathroom, they have to run back to the campus gym (two football fields in length away), use “decrepit Porta-Potties,” or relieve themselves in the bushes.

“It made them feel unvalued. It made them feel like they were second-class compared to the boys, which is ridiculous,” Wisch said.

The suit also says that students were retaliated against by the school when they complained.

“They were told that the water polo program might be cancelled. There was a check that was supposed to be signed to provide additional resources and that was being withheld,” Wisch added.

And it alleges that other disparities eIXst for girls, including how their games are scheduled, what type of coaching and publicity they receive, and what travel opportunities they have.

“Perhaps most important, female athletes must carry the burden of knowing their educational institution does not value them as much — that they are, in essence, second-class — just because they are female,” the suit says.

Earlier this year, the ACLU put the state Education Department on notice over its alleged unequal treatment of female athletes, saying that a number of schools weren’t in compliance with Title IX.

The DOE released this comment regarding the suit: “We have not received nor had a chance to review the lawsuit and are unable to provide information or a comment due to pending litigation.”

A 2016 DOE plan said that 14 schools have male athletic locker rooms, but no facilities for girls.

Title IX Filing by HNN on Scribd

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.