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Celebrating and Advancing Gender Equity in Youth Sports

Any girl, wanting to run around, be healthy and make friends, can get their start through park and recreation youth sports programming — especially if they get that chance to play, feel welcome and are encouraged to come back by supportive coaches, staff and community members.

This June 23 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX, the federal law requiring gender equity in publicly funded educational programs, including K-12 and college athletics. California also has an innovative law requiring gender equity in youth athletics run or hosted by the state’s park and recreation agencies—AB 2404, passed in 2004—mirroring Title IX.

While girls and women have come a long way in opportunity and equity in athletics, there is still much progress to be made. Girls of color in low-income areas are particularly lacking in opportunity to play sports in existing programs. Plus, girls generally often get a far smaller share of sports opportunities in school and park and recreation-facilitated programming, as well as “uneven playing fields.”