Female Inequality with athletic accommodations

Bekah Moenning, Head Sports Editor

In 1972, Congress passed the Educational Amendments which mention Title IX, a law that prohibits any type of discrimination against women in federally-funded athletic programs. Title IX includes the equal treatment of both male and female athletes concerning equipment and supplies, scheduling of games and practice times, coaching, tutoring, locker rooms, competitive facilities and much more.

Durango High School has done an outstanding job supporting girls teams and boys teams equally. However, some female athletes have recently felt frustrated with the fact they are given one small locker room to accommodate the four spring sports: soccer, track, lacrosse, and tennis. Reactions would be different if the male athletes of DHS didn’t have a larger locker room with larger lockers, and an entire field house to themselves.

Equipment such as tennis rackets, lacrosse sticks and all of the typical football gear is required for many sports. The female lacrosse players have recently been forced to lock their lacrosse sticks outside of their lockers because they are not big enough to put them inside. The boys’ locker room, however, has a full body sized lockers that aren’t entirely needed because the boys’ lacrosse players use the field house, which the female athletes don’t get access to.

“For underclassmen lacrosse players it is definitely difficult because nobody gets assigned lockers or a space for our team as a whole. Speaking for my team and I’m sure a lot of others, we don’t want special treatment, just the same privileges that guys sports get,” said Junior lacrosse player Rachel Flora.

Flora also explained that the male players’ access to the field house is understandable because of the spatial needs for lacrosse and football pads. However, space is still lacking for the girls’ lacrosse sticks, and the lacrosse goalies have recently had to put their large gear unlocked on top of the lockers overnight because they aren’t big enough to accommodate them.

Sophomore Rebecca Bowers is a tennis player for DHS and is very aware of the issue.

“I don’t think it is fair because girls sports are equally as popular as boys sports, and there are just as many female athletes as there is male athletes year round. If the school did give the girls more room, we would be on time to practice, and more importantly, feel like our contributions and effort to sports at DHS is honored just as much as the boys’ contribution and effort,” said Bowers.

For some girls, it feels as though the athletic ability on the male side of things is valued more than what female athletes have proven they can do. Being cramped together and having to wait your turn just to be able to open your locker doesn’t make the athletes feel good.

Mary Fenberg has begun her last year on the track team as a senior athlete and offered up some confusion as well as a possible solution.

“I guess I would say that I do not understand why the boys would have a larger locker room in the first place. Especially in the spring when there are more female than male sports going on. My question would be: what can we do to accomodate all of the girls that utilize the locker room? Tear down the wall to the showers, which we never use, and put in lockers?” said Fenberg.

The athletes are not asking for a brand new locker room or a brand new field house all to themselves, just some extra space so getting ready for practice is comfortable and efficient with plenty of room for all the gear and equipment.

Benjamin Bates, a leader and role model for track and cross-country, has also been made aware of his female friends vexation and agrees that it is an issue.

“As a Junior boy at DHS and a two-sport athlete, I have seen the incomparable differences that make up female athletics versus male athletics at DHS. A recent issue was brought to my attention after talking to one of my girlfriends on the same sports team surrounding the sizes of the gender-specific sports locker rooms. With boys football being the most popular sport in Durango, they are assigned the field house outside on the football field, while the rest of the boys sports teams are comfortably fit in the old basketball gym locker room near the courts,” said Bates.

It is clear just how important football is to DHS, which for the most part is not a negative thing. However, because football is now an all male sport at DHS it is easy to feel like they are getting special treatment causing many females to feel discouraged and even overshadowed.

“My issue is not the fact that the girls do not have a field house, but rather the issue brought to my recent attention regarding their cramped quarters in their one locker room with multiple sports teams in it. I believe this is an issue that should be brought up with the school district,” said Bates.

Gender inequality remains to be an issue no matter what century we are in and although that is not anybody’s intention at our high school, things like this can’t continue to be ignored. It is vital that action needs to be taken and this article was the first step.  These girls aren’t asking for a lot, and it is a fact that we are in violation of Title IX. Change has to be inevitable.

If you are a a female athlete or a student who has concerns about what happens at DHS, I encourage you to contact administrators or attend school board meetings to use your voice.

Contact Adam Bright at abright@durangoschools.org or Superintendant Dan Snowberger at dsnowberger@durangoschools.org