Title IX Violations in Hawaii Schools


Athletes like the Badis siblings don’t have access to locker rooms. (Source: Marie Eriel)

Ever since the dawn of humanity, women have faced immense societal disadvantages in comparison to their male counterparts. This is evident in the sports world, as female athletes are still not valued as equally as male athletes.

As sports have risen in popularity over the years, young girls all over the world have dreamt of dominating the tennis court like Serena Williams, or perfecting the art of gymnastics like Simone Biles. Unfortunately, they have never been given a fair chance to fully pursue an athletic career like the boys in their class, because funding has usually been funneled to the boys’ teams.

In efforts to resolve this issue, the United States government passed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibited sex-based discrimination in schools. Although this law intended to serve as the end of discrimination in education, it was mainly only recognized in college sports.

When problems regarding equal opportunities arose in the high school scene, the parents and guardians of girls in sports pressured administrators and filed lawsuits against school officials. Unfortunately, these cases rarely ever went to trial, as districts usually settled them.

A Hawaii case in 2022, however, looks to correct the loopholes of Title IX. 50 years after Title IX was passed, the female athletes and students of James Campbell High School have reported inhumane conditions in their women’s sports teams. Campbell High School, home of the Sabers, was constructed back in 1962, but there has never been a locker room built for its female athletes.

Without any storage room, Abby Pothier, a former soccer and water polo player for the Sabers, recalls the rough experience of being a female student athlete. Along with her school backpack and lunchbox, Pothier had to carry a duffel bag full of her sports gear from class to class. It gets worse from here, however, as the girls’ soccer team had to wait for the boys’ soccer and football practices to end before beginning their own — at 9:30 P.M. Then, when it came time to finally practice, the female Sabers had to change under the bleachers or on the bus if they had a game. Even during the game, they had to run to the local Burger King just to use the restroom.

In an even more extreme circumstance, Ashley Badis, another former water polo player for the Sabers, remembers how her team had to practice in the ocean, since the school did not have a pool.

The amount of adversity that these girls face every day just to practice and compete in a sport they love is absurd. On the other end of spectrum, boys in Hawaii have enjoyed the practice facilities and locker rooms that the school had so generously provided them.

If the laws in place do not have any effect, how can this prevailing issue ever be resolved? Since legislation has not improved opportunities for girls across the country, change needs to begin to happen at the small scale.

When asked about the importance of Title IX, Boston Latin School girls’ varsity basketball Head Coach Keri Orellana, says that “female athletes shouldn’t have to fight so hard to get what male athletes automatically receive,” and dismisses any mention of the revenue disparity for professional athletes, as “the [revenue] argument doesn’t even apply at the high school level.” She concludes her statement by arguing that, “There is no valid reason for the gender discrepancies in providing better equipment, facilities and staff for all high school athletes.”

Title IX is a step in the right direction in the fight against discrimination in education, but the Hawaii case of James Cambell High School has shone the light back on this pressing issue, and true change can only come from combined efforts from all parties. Not only should women be speaking out and fighting for this cause, but boys and men should also be contributing equally as well.

The world of sports provides a platform for all to enjoy, but this enjoyment can only be achieved if young female athletes’ dreams are given the same value and support as those of male athletes.