VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- A recent agreement between two civil rights non-profit organizations and the Vista Unified School District will help ensure girls and boys sports will be treated equally.
In 2018, the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) and Legal Aid at Work’s (LAAW) Fair Play for Girls in Sports project communicated with the Vista Unified School District on behalf of their clients regarding the “the inferior facilities, equipment, and treatment softball players were provided compared to many of the boys’ programs,” according to a statement on the CWLC’s website.
Those allegations were a violation of Title IX, a nearly 50-year-old federal law that requires gender equity in athletic programs.
“For example, the baseball field had cinderblock dugouts, they had a snack shack, they had an electronic scoreboard and the softball field didn't have any of those things,” said Amy Poyer, a senior staff attorney at the CWLC. “What we found was that softball and baseball was just really the tip of the iceberg.”
They also found a large participation gap between boys and girls’ sports.
“We have found that almost all schools have a participation gap where girls are not getting enough opportunity to meet their interests,” said Kim Turner, the senior staff attorney and project director of Fair Play for Girls in Sports. “They want to play more. They love sports. They're not getting those seats at the athletics table.”
In a process that took about 3 years, Poyer and Turner said the Vista school district made significant changes. At Vista High School, there are new softball fields and a sports complex for boys and girls that is currently being completed.
A new softball field was also unveiled in recent months at Buena Vista High School.
The district will conduct ongoing Title IX training for administrators and coaches, according to Poyer and Turner.
Turner said youth sports have long-lasting effects.
“Girls… who play sports in high school are shown to make higher wages as adults in the workplace compared to their non-athlete peers. So we're not talking about just fun and games here. We're talking about girls playing sports, meaning dollars and cents for those girls,” Turner said.
“Both Kim and I are college athletes and would credit being able to play sports with a lot of the success that we’ve been able to have,” Poyer added.
In a statement posted on the CWLC website, the superintendent of the district said they are dedicated to equity for female athletes.
“Vista Unified is committed to implementing our value of equity throughout the District. Athletics is a key aspect of our instructional program, and we are working diligently to ensure that female athletes have the support and resources they need to reach their full potential. Our two new multi-million dollar softball fields at Rancho Buena Vista High and Vista High are a testament to our commitment to equity for our female athletes,” wrote Dr. Matt Doyle, the superintendent of the district.