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New State Law to Promote Equity for Girls in High School Sports

Local women's rights activists are celebrating a new state law that requires every Pennsylvania public school to report the size, scope, and budget of each of its sports programs.

Women's Law Project Attorney Susan Frietsche said the new law will shed light on schools' efforts to comply with Title IX, the 1972 federal law that requires equal spending on male sports and female sports in grade schools and colleges.

"All it is is a reporting bill, reporting information that is already publicly accessible through the Right-to-Know Act if you have the knowledge, the legal power, the time, and sometimes the money to file a Right-to-Know request and the related appeals," said Frietsche.

Sponsoring Pennsylvania Senator Mary Jo White (R-Beaver) said she hopes middle schools and high schools will use the opportunity to improve Title IX compliance.

"How do you know if you're in compliance with federal law if you don't even compile any statistics, or any numbers, or any reports to even question the status quo?" asked White at a press conference outside Pittsburgh Council Chamber on Tuesday.

According to City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, girls can develop positive attributes by playing organized sports in high school.

"Organized sports improves leadership skills. It opens doors for college scholarships," said Rudiak. "It actually benefits low-status, disadvantaged students the most, and it's actually one of the few interventions that is shown to do that. Women who participate in sports do 10% better in math, science, English, and social studies classes."

The Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Bill was signed into law on June 30 as part of an omnibus education package. Public schools' first athletics reports must be posted online by the Department of Education by November 1, 2013.