Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Michigan Title IX Law Suit

A customer from Flint Michigan recently emailed me. "DID YOU HEAR?" she asked. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the Michigan High School Athletic Association in their long running legal battle to fend off requirements to create equal playing conditions for high school girls. Nearly a decade ago, a number of parents in Grand Rapids noticed that, among other things, high school girls were forced to play out of season, on inferior playing fields, and on abbreviated schedules. These parents, headed by Dianne Madsen, Jay Roberts-Eveland, and Connie Engel, banded together to form Communities for Equity (

CFE, several years ago, went to considerable effort to bring me, along with A Hero for Daisy, to Grand Rapids, Michigan, just as their lawsuit was in its infancy. They, along with the Michigan Women's Foundation, organized a number of events, including an overflow capacity crowd at Grand Valley State University (where hundreds of high school girls were bussed in to see A Hero for Daisy); Calvin College, and Aquinas College. It was a week that I will always remember - I was so moved by the energy and excitement and enthusiasm of these young female athletes - as well as the dedication and tirelessness of their parents who were willing to take on an entrenched and outdated athletic system - so that their daughters would have the same opportunities and facilities that their sons enjoyed.

The Association lost the lawsuit filed by CFE in 2001 when US District Court Judge Richard Alan Enslen, in a 30 page opinion, ruled unequivocally that the Assocation had violated Title IX as well as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution as well as Michigan's own constitution. Unfortunately, the Assocation continued to insist that making such changes for girls would be an undue burden - filing two losing appeals with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and most recently, an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. What is remarkable is that these same parents withstood years of costly and draining legal challenges mounted by the Association (from 2001 until last month) - long after their own daughters graduated from high school.

CFE, Diane, Jay, and Connie have created an enduring legacy, not just for Michigan girls, but for all of our daughters - and we salute them. For more on this historic challenge, check out The Detroit News coverage.

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