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Teen Girl Sues for Right to Choose Which Wrestling Team to Join

By George Khoury, Esq. on February 03, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Salt Lake City, Utah, teen filed a federal lawsuit against her school district in order to have the same right as boys to choose which wrestling team she joins. Yesterday, news broke on Twitter that the federal court judge approved the emergency injunction, which was requested at the time of filing the lawsuit, that will allow her to wrestle in the upcoming season which is close to starting.

Kathleen is 15, but unlike 15-year-old boys in her junior high, she was not allowed to choose whether she wanted to wrestle on the high school team or the junior high team. The school district was requiring her to join the high school team, which is made up of older student athletes and would require her to miss part of her last class each day to travel to practice. Additionally, it is nothing more than a policy issue as the school already has adequate facilities.

Title IX School Sports and Sex Discrimination

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools. It's specifically geared toward improving access to sports for young women, if the school receives federal funding. And just about every school out there receives federal funding, or is part of a school district or organization that does. However, there are limits to what Title IX can do to equalize sports. Additionally, Title IX does not authorize damages for violations, but does allow courts to issue injunctions to force schools into compliance. But, if the school is a government entity, like a state or city run school, then monetary damages could follow if there was a violation of 42 USC 1983.

While Title IX is generally credited with providing girls with equal opportunities in school sports, it's nearly impossible not to recognize the real disparities in funding and attention for men's and women's sports that currently exists today. According to one source, men receive $190 million more in athletic scholarships per year than women. And that barely scratches the surface of the salary differences between men and women in professional sports.

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