Please urge your Pennsylvania lawmakers in the House Education Committee to vote against HB 1112, legislation that would suspend education data collection laws, including those related to athletics.
This bill is scheduled for a vote in the Education Committee on Monday, June 15, 2015.
The problem: HB 1112 could result in a backdoor repeal of the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act. This act, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2012, created a good gender-equity law. It requires public secondary schools (grades 7-12) to report basic information about their school-sponsored athletic programs once a year.
True, HB 1112 specifies that the Department of Education would only suspend data collection laws it finds unnecessary, burdensome or redundant. The Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act is not unnecessary, burdensome or redundant, but that doesn’t mean the DOE won’t assert otherwise, and repeal it if HB 1112 is passed into law.
The Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act is still necessary.
Pennsylvania schools are shortchanging girls. A random review of a few of the first year’s reports shows that school districts are failing to provide female students with athletic opportunities in proportion to the percentage of female students enrolled. Gender gaps as big as 18.72% suggest that girls are losing out on the chance to play sports.
The Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act is not burdensome.
The data on athletic opportunities, such as the number of students on athletic teams and what year teams were added or eliminated, is readily available to schools. It should take only between two and six hours to fill out Pennsylvania’s reporting form. In Kentucky and Georgia, where gender equity disclosure laws have been on the books for more than a decade, school administrators take between two and six hours to complete very similar reports.
The Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act is not redundant.
Without this law, it is difficult to find gender equity data. This law puts all of the information related to athletic opportunities for girls in one place, enabling parents, students, coaches, and others in the community find out whether their public schools are providing female athletes with the equitable opportunities and treatment they deserve, as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Without this law, it would be much more difficult for a community to discover if their school’s athletic program is discriminating against girls.
Repealing the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act would also increase the burden on schools, which would have to respond to possible multiple “Right to Know” requests from parents, students or community members — responses to which are due within a few days — instead of reporting the data once a year.
Requiring schools to collect and report athletic data on a yearly basis is about transparency and fairness to young women in a state with a record of discriminating against female athletes.
Without equitable access to athletic opportunities, girls lose out on the many benefits associated with team sports, ranging from friendships and fun to substantial health gains, the development of leadership skills, and access to college scholarships.
Click here to urge your legislator to vote NO on HB 1112 and stand up for the young women of Pennsylvania.
(Photo: Fullerton Memorial Playground Athletic via Flickr/Creative Commons)