Pictured: Barry Giaquinto with his daughter in the newly renovated Massapequa High School locker room.
It never seemed quite fair, but the female athletes at Massapequa High School had always just accepted the sub-par quality of their locker room. Not only were the facilities cramped and beat-up, they even lacked benches to sit on for changing. In contrast, those provided to their male counterparts were renovated, brightly painted with school colors and boasted amenities such as larger lockers and plentiful seating.
When two student reporters published an editorial on this disparity in the school newspaper, it caught the attention of several parents who recognized that this was not only unfair, but potentially illegal as well. The parents were familiar with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funds. Athletic programs fall under Title IX and facilities, like the Massapequa locker rooms, are one area where schools must treat student-athletes equitably.
Two dads, Barry Giaquinto and Bob Storti, who saw the editorial, decided to join together to try to get equity for the female student-athletes at Massapequa High School. They both have daughters who graduated from Massapequa High School and confirmed the details in the editorial were true. The Women’s Sports Foundation provided Giaquinto and Storti with information about Title IX, including our publications, Play Fair: A Title IX Playbook for Victory and Step by Step: A Practical Guide to Assessing and Achieving Gender Equity in School Sports. They then brought their concerns in writing to Massapequa Schools and petitioned for the necessary remediation to the girls’ facilities. Calling upon the administration to prioritize this renovation over other scheduled elective improvements, Giaquinto and Storti offered both constructive suggestions and clear expectations for action.
Recognizing their obligation to comply with Title IX and treat their female students equitably, the school administration moved quickly in response to their appeal and got to work. The completed project included the installation of new flooring, new benches and larger locker units to better accommodate equipment, books and uniforms. To inspire team spirit, the walls were also refreshed with school colors.
In the editorial that set all these changes in motion, the student authors asserted that girls deserved facilities of equal quality because “they continue to excel equally” in competition. Their parent advocates clarified that the right to be treated fairly is not contingent upon a team’s record: “We feel that the success or failure of our teams is irrelevant. It is a matter of fairness and abiding by federal law.” All girls deserve equality not because they win games, but because it is their birthright. Thanks to Title IX, it is also the law.
For more information about Title IX and for resources to help you advocate for girls and women in your community, please visit our website: www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Advocate