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Tryouts and sex discrimination: Preventing gender bias in Florida

Working in a school, there are certain laws you need to uphold as a teacher. One of these laws has to do with sexual violence and discrimination. Known as Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, this civil rights law prohibits the use of discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity that is federally funded.

It's not surprising that you could be accused of discriminating based on a student's sex, especially when it comes to intramural sports that allow both males and females to play on the same teams. For instance, if you have two spots on a team and are looking for the best two tryouts and those happen to be boys, the females may think this is based on a preference for men over women instead of being based on merit or skill.

There are a few ways you can prevent these types of situations from happening. For example, some schools in Florida with intramural sports require equal numbers of males and females to be allowed to play. Some schools only have male-only or female-only teams who play against each other in intramural settings.

In all fairness, athletics can be difficult to judge when males and females play together, especially as they age. There is some evidence that males may become stronger or more muscular either before or with more ease than females, but females may have a better time with acrobatics and flexibility or designing sports plays to win a game. Making sure tryouts focus on various qualities, both mental and physical, can help close the gap between gender differences and help you choose a well-rounded team without a fear of discrimination allegations.

Source: The United States Department of Education, "Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence" accessed Mar. 10, 2015

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