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Women's Advocates Declare Victory in Title IX Settlement

A court approved a consent decree from the Franklin County (Ind.) Community School Corp. Monday in which the schools agreed to schedule girls' basketball games in primetime (Friday and Saturday night) slots in equal proportion to boys' games.

Women's sports advocates, such as the National Women's Law Center, were quick to declare the settlement a major Title IX victory, saying it could well be precedent-setting.

"The settlement in this case is a great victory for the Indiana girls affected by their school's unfair scheduling practices," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, in a statement. "The consent decree will ensure that these female athletes will be treated on par with male athletes in terms of when they get to play—equal treatment that is both right and required under the law."

In Amber Parker v. Franklin County Community School Corporation, the county's former women's basketball coach sued the district over an alleged negative impact resulting from disparate scheduling. Franklin County High School formerly scheduled nearly all its boys' basketball games on Friday and Saturday nights, while leaving nearly half the girls' basketball games for school nights.

Earlier this year, an appeals court agreed with Parker, saying the weeknight games could "result in a loss of audience, conflict with homework, and foster feelings of inferiority" for the girls' team. Based on that, the appeals court overturned a prior court's dismissal of the case and allowed the case to proceed to trial.

Instead of allowing the case to reach trial, the Franklin County Community School Corp., and nine of its opponent schools agreed to schedule girls and boys games equally by the 2016-17 school year, with interim steps until then, Parker's lawyer, William Groth, told the Associated Press.

The consent decree only applies to the 10 schools, but Groth told the AP that it sets a precedent due to the appeals court's ruling that equal scheduling is required under Title IX.

"The 7th Circuit's decision earlier this year sent a clear message not only to the lower federal courts but to all high school athletic directors that Title IX requires equality in all phases of high school athletics, including the scheduling of athletic contests," Groth said.

Title IX is the federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits gender discrimination in any federally financed education program or activity. (Check out our collection on the law's 40th anniversary from earlier this year for more info.)

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