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Complaints of gender discrimination (Title IX) ‘fairly common’ at Utah schools

Jun 14, 2023, 10:52 PM | Updated: 11:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s federal law: school sports must be equal between boys’ and girls’ teams.

Last month, KSL Investigators probed a Title IX agreement at Viewmont High School, wherein the federal Office of Civil Rights had deemed inequity with the girls’ softball facilities. We discovered missed deadlines for upgrades, and prompted Davis School District administration to continue those upgrades.

Multiple people reached out following that report, telling their own stories of battling Title IX violations at Utah schools in the past.

We dug deeper.

Data we obtained from OCR, which investigates and enforces Title IX in schools, showed 245 complaints regarding gender discrimination in Utah over the last ten years.

The majority, 81%, were dismissed for various reasons, including for lack of evidence, and failure of the complainant to follow through.

“They’re hoping you’re gonna go away,” said Norma Carr, women’s sports advocate and former athletic director at Salt Lake Community College, “and usually parents do go away as soon as their kid goes away. So they’re hoping you’re going to go away and this will resolve itself.”

Those that aren’t dismissed often take months, even years, to reach a resolution.

For example, the Viewmont girls’ softball team reached an agreement with Davis School District in 2021. Part of that agreement included new dugouts, backstop, covered batting cages, and field work, all of which take time to remedy.

Utah has 14 cases of gender discrimination currently in the investigative phase. According to federal data, the average case age for these is 943 days.

The investigative case currently open the longest was created in 2016, listed as a case of sexual violence in Davis School District.

Carr said sometimes what start as simple complaints evolve after the feds get involved, thus it behooves the school to take preventative measures in equity.

“If Title IX comes in and investigates, they don’t just look at this issue, they’re going to look at everything,” she said. “The example of that was years ago, there was a high school that bought new uniforms for one of the male sports. The women asked for some new uniforms and never got it. Well, eventually, it got to a Title IX investigation, and when they got through, it was locker rooms. It was playing fields. It was a lot of things and it was a lot of dollars.”

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

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Complaints of gender discrimination (Title IX) ‘fairly common’ at Utah schools