Gender bias lawsuit in LA

AnneM (
Thu, 1 Oct 1998 10:56:52 -0400

Forwarded from WISENET.
Subject: Fwd: Gender bias lawsuit in LA
From: Women In Science and Engineering NETwork <WISENET@LISTSERV.UIC.EDU>
Date: 9/20/98 11:32

ACLU of So. Calif. to Expand Softball
Bias Lawsuit to Represent Girls Citywide

September 8, 1998

LOS ANGELES -- Citing a lack of city-sponsored athletic programs for
girls, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today
said it will ask the court to expand its class-action sex bias lawsuit
on behalf of a local girls' softball league to include all girls in
the city of Los Angeles.

The original lawsuit, Baca v. City of Los Angeles, was filed last
April against the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Recreation
and Parks for discrimination against the West Valley Girls' Softball
League. The ACLU charged that the league, which includes more than 400
girls ages five to 18 in the San Fernando Valley, has been denied
equal access to publicly-owned fields that are consistently made
available to boys' baseball leagues.

In announcing its intention to amend the lawsuit, the ACLU said today
that the overwhelming majority of girls in Los Angeles do not have
equal access to either city-sponsored softball leagues or to the many
athletic programs paid for and run by the city currently available to

As a result of investigation undertaken as part of the lawsuit, the
ACLU said it is abundantly clear that girls city-wide are denied
access to the public recreational programs, services and facilities
that are freely and abundantly available to young men. And in a letter
sent to the City Attorney's Office the ACLU contends that the city has
never adequately addressed the unequal and discriminatory treatment of
the West Valley league.

"There can be no justification for the city of Los Angeles to deny any
child the opportunity to play an athletic team sport because she is a
girl," said ACLU attorney Rocio Cordoba. "Such treatment of our city's
female youth is not only illegal, it is debasing and brands girls as
inferior, second class citizens."

The West Valley Girls Softball League was established in 1969 as a
privately run, non-profit organizational sponsor of girls' softball.
Most of
the 400 members live in the West Valley communities of Woodland Hills,
West Hills, Calabasas and Canoga Park.

The ACLU said the Baca lawsuit is the first sex bias case brought
against a city or county park department for discriminatory treatment
of girls in the use of public recreational facilities. The suit was
filed after repeated attempts by the WVGS to get a permit for
permanent facilities at city-run parks.

Year after year, team members have been forced to spend significant
time and resources to secure temporary permits to play in sub-standard
school fields. On some occasions they had to carry in dirt to improve
the only fields made available to them.

Not only does Recreation and Parks give the boys' leagues permanent
access to smooth, safe and well-maintained parks with bleachers,
dug-outs and
concession stands, the ACLU said, it also sponsors three West Valley
boys' leagues.

"Denying girls access to public playing fields, and relegating them to
temporary, inferior facilities, only serves to perpetuate gender-based
stereotypes that girls' athletics somehow are less deserving or
inferior to boys' athletics," the ACLU's Cordoba said. "These
generalizations about different talents, capacities and preferences of
males and females historically have served to deny women equal
protection of the laws and thus cannot be tolerated."

The California Women's Law Center, dedicated to ensuring equality for
women and girls, and the law firm of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays &
Handler now also represent plaintiffs along with the ACLU.

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