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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Sunday, January 12, 2003
10:25 PM

I wonder about this Title IX story that appeared Saturday:

Arlington Co. Responds to Title IX Claim

By Tarik El-Bashir

Attorneys representing the Arlington County School Board yesterday proposed to make several upgrades to the girls' athletic programs and facilities at Washington-Lee High School over the coming year in response to a student's accusations that the school is in violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination at schools and other educational institutions that receive federal funds.

Arlington County attorneys presented the changes -- which range from creating a girls' locker room to rearranging the awards in the school's trophy case -- in response to a proposed settlement agreement sent in November by the National Women's Law Center. The NWLC has been negotiating with the school board over the past seven months on behalf of 17-year-old Washington-Lee senior Christine Boehm, a four-year member of the school's field hockey team.

I was getting ready to blog this as a simple example of Title IX actually achieving something good--as it has, to be honest, in many cases. At first look the action means the school will provide more equal facilities to girls and boys. But then I began to wonder if we're comparing apples to oranges:

Boehm said her experiences as a field hockey player motivated her to press for change. On a typical game day, Boehm said she spent a half-hour after school hustling to her car to retrieve practice gear, and then crowding into a small bathroom to change clothes. After getting dressed, Boehm then would go back to her car and drive around to the side of the school where the field hockey equipment was stored. She filled up a water cooler, grabbed the equipment bag and double-checked for a roll of athletic tape -- which was used to hold a broken goal together and to tape the required uniform number on the back of the goaltender's jersey.

Boehm saw a far different situation on Friday nights at Washington-Lee's football games. The players changed together in the boys' locker room, complete with oversized lockers for their uniforms and equipment. She then watched as the players, wearing shiny jerseys and pants, ran onto a well-maintained field where water coolers awaited them.

The question that the story doesn't really answer is whether Boehm's field-hockey experiences were different from those experienced by other sports that are usually considered second-tier; i.e., less likely to draw large crowds, maybe make a little money, be a major focal point for school activities, etc. I have no way of knowing--and of course I don't know how big a crowd girls' field hockey draws these days. If all boys' teams get the red-carpet treatment and all girls' teams get numbers falling off uniforms, for goodness sake, the more power to her. If not, not.

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