We recently warned you about House Bill 1112, and asked you to take action on behalf of female athletes in Pennsylvania. We’re happy to report that your voices were heard, and the problem has been resolved.
The bill’s stated purpose is to identify unnecessary, burdensome or redundant regulations governing data collection in schools, and then eliminate them. While that sounds reasonable, we noticed that the bill could have been used as a backdoor repeal of a very good law called 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. Such reporting is necessary because, in short, Pennsylvania shortchanges female athletes.
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 34% suggest that girls are losing out on the chance to play sports.
Equal opportunities to play sports is not just about recreation and fitness. Research shows people who play on high school sports teams tend to get better jobs and earn higher salaries—benefits that reverberate throughout life. “In other words, there are clear and robust individual and societal benefits that appear to be generated through the current system of school support for participation in competitive youth athletics.”
Rep. Rosemary M. Brown, prime sponsor of the bill, amended the legislation so it does not apply to data reporting required by laws or regulations, leaving the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act in effect and untouchable by the legislation.
We’d like to thank you for speaking up on behalf of Pennsylvania’s female athletes, and thank Rep. Brown for listening to our concerns.
Together, we can make real change in Pennsylvania.
-Tara Murtha, WLP Staff