Earlier this year, high school freshman Morgan Hollowell and her father sued the Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin, challenging the district’s decision to exclude girls from the hockey cooperative it is joining with another school district. Elmbrook officials cited low interest among girls as its reason for leaving them out of the plan.
It was recently reported in Athletic Business that in response to the pressure from the lawsuit, the school district has reversed its plan and will now enter into a similar cooperative for girls hockey. Though I could find no details about existing athletic opportunities in Elmbrook, unless athletic opportunities are roughly proportionate to the gender breakdown of the student body, under Title IX’s three prong test, the district can’t ignore unmet interest and ability among the underrepresented sex. While this aspect of the law would not require a school district to form a team when only a small number of girls (the article said 3) is interested in the sport, a different standard arguably applies when the decision isn’t to form a team, but to join a cooperatives with other districts. It seems to me that the very fact Elmbrook was joining a cooperative suggests that there were not enough male hockey players at either or both of Elmbrook’s high schools to field a team either. If the school district is going to accommodate boys’ interests in that manner, it should similarly accommodate girls’.