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Page TitleHawai’i Public High School Facing Title IX Class Action for Gender-Based Inequity

James Campbell High School (Campbell) is Hawai'i's largest public high school. Four female athletes brought suit, on behalf of themselves and hundreds of current and former female students, against the Hawai’i Department of Education and the O’ahu Interscholastic Association. They seek system-wide change and compliance with the school’s obligations to provide equity under Title IX. Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational settings, including high schools.

Campbell has 3,000+ students, most of whom are Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic. Campbell's female athletes have not had access to locker facilities since the school was built in 1962. According to a New York Times report, female athletes must carry their sports gear throughout the school day, go to a nearby Burger King to use the bathroom, and change their clothes on the bus or under the bleachers. Many of these female athletes limit their water intake to avoid the need to run to the nearest bathroom, which is about half a mile away. Some female athletes said they would "crouch down in the bushes" to relieve themselves. One of the former soccer players said the girls' soccer players could not use the practice fields until after the boys' football and soccer teams were finished, which was as late as 9:30 p.m. In addition, the school authorized the boys' teams to travel to the west coast for competitions. However, the school did not allow the girls' soccer team to even stay overnight in Maui for a state tournament. They had to travel there and back on the same day without the time to clean up post-game. The school failed to hire a girl's water polo coach when one plaintiff wanted to join the team. Her father, with no experience, took it on and recruited another coach; the school did not ask for any paperwork or background checks. The young women also allege the school retaliated against them for complaining about the conditions by telling faculty who complained and warning the staff to speak carefully around them. One plaintiff states school officials first threatened to cancel the girl's water polo season and then claimed half of the submitted paperwork was missing.

The ACLU of Hawai’i, Legal Aid at Work, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett represent the class of female athletes. The suit does not seek any damages; they want changes and accountability.