Student Rights

Female Athletes Must Have Equal Access to School Sports


Denying a student the opportunity to play a sport based on their sex is unlawful.

Title IX specifically states, “[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This means if a girl wants to play a sport at her public school, she must be given the same opportunity as a boy.  If the school does not offer a female team for a particular sport, girls must be allowed to try out for the boys’ team.

The ACLU of Ohio recently stepped in to help Makhaela Jenkins, a middle school student who was told she could not play football because she was a girl. Soon after, the school reversed their decision and allowed Makhaela to join her teammates on the field.

Girls showing interest in contact sports is nothing new.  In 1974, an Ohio little league football team was forced to accept a twelve year old girl who wanted to play.  Today, girls across the state of Ohio play football, join the wrestling team and play rugby.

Boy or girl, the ACLU of Ohio encourages all students to participate in whatever sport they desire.