In March of 2000, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 1308, known as the "Equity in Sports Act." This bill enacted a state law modeled in part after the federal law entitled "Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972".
Title IX is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination based on gender.
This state law imposes various requirements on local school systems, and it also provides for penalties against local school systems for noncompliance with the law.
In addition, the Georgia Department of Education is required under the state law to submit an annual compliance report to the General Assembly regarding the compliance of all local school systems with this law and to approve athletic interest surveys conducted by school systems to determine whether or not to offer a particular sport.
This law provides that no student shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, be treated differently from another student, or otherwise be discriminated against in any interscholastic or intramural athletics offered by a local school system.
No local school system shall provide any such athletics separately on such bases.
A local school system which operates or sponsors interscholastic or intramural athletics shall undertake all reasonable efforts to provide equal athletic opportunity for members of both genders.
A local school system may operate or sponsor separate teams for members of each gender when selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill, or the activity involved is a contact sport.
However, when a local school system operates or sponsors a team in a particular sport for members of one gender but operates or sponsors no such team for members of the other gender, and athletic opportunities for members of that particular sport have previously been limited, members of the excluded gender must be allowed to try out for the team offered unless the sport involved is a contact sport.
It has been the policy of the Bryan County Board of Education to prohibit discrimination based on gender in its elementary and secondary school athletic programs.
In accordance with the Georgia Equity in Sports Act, it has been the policy of the Board to undertake all reasonable efforts to provide equal athletic opportunities for members of both genders. It has also been the policy of the Board not to participate in, sponsor, or provide coaching staff for interscholastic sports events which are conducted under the authority of, conducted under the rules of, or scheduled by any athletic association unless the charter, bylaws, or other governing documents of such athletic association comply with the Georgia Equity in Sports Act.
It has been the policy of the Board to conduct an ongoing assessment of its athletic programs to determine whether there are equal athletic opportunities for members of both genders. If it is determined that there are not equal athletic opportunities for members of both genders, the school system will conduct an athletic interest survey to determine student interest in various sports.
by Billy McGrath, director of student services.
Editor's note: Each week, the Bryan County Board of Education provides a story on an aspect of the local school system.