HomeWorldHawaii settles lawsuit after female athletes forced to practice in ocean, use restroom at Burger King
Hawaii settles lawsuit after female athletes forced to practice in ocean, use restroom at Burger King
October 29, 2023
The Hawaii Board of Education has settled a lawsuit brought forth by female athletes and their parents after the girls were allegedly forced to practice in the ocean and run to Burger King to use the restroom.
The class-action lawsuit was filed by girls at the James Campbell High School, who alleged Hawaii’s biggest high school was systematically discriminating against them based on their gender, The New York Times reported.
The girls’ water polo team allegedly had to practice in the ocean — even under dangerous conditions — and other female athletes had to use the restroom at a local Burger King and change on the bus or under the bleaches because the school did not provide a locker room, they claimed in court papers.
Their male counterparts had “exclusive access to a stand-alone athletic locker room facility” where they could “store gear, change, shower, use the bathrooms, hold team meetings, and build team spirit,” the athletes contended.
“Female athletes have nothing comparable,” according to the 2018 lawsuit, which was filed by two female water polo team members against the Department of Education and the Oahu Interscholastic Association.
The case gained traction in July 2022 when a federal judge ruled it could become a class action.
In the settlement, the state has agreed to agreed to hire an independent evaluator to ensure fairness between genders. In addition, the Honolulu school has to follow a seven-year compliance plan and create a hotline to report discrimination.
The board agreed to settle the case Friday, for an undisclosed amount.
“We are hopeful that this monumental settlement will be a building block in Hawaii and nationwide to a future where every girl is ensured the rights required by Title IX,” Jayma Meyer, a lawyer for the athletes, told The Times.
Ashley Badis, one of the girls who filed the suit, told The Times: “I’m happy that future students won’t have to go through what my teammates and I did. We just wanted girls to have the same opportunities to play that boys had.”
Badis, now 22, said at time the school threatened to cancel the female water polo team all together when they girls called out the discrimination.
The lawsuit also alleged the state’s Department of Education prioritized updating men’s facilities over providing women with any, according to Clearing House.
The DOE and OIA claimed they had made improvements for girls sports at the school, including a new baseball and softball field and lockers for softball players.
In addition, the state has allocated $6 million to the DOE for James Campbell High School’s athletic facilities, which will include a girl’s lockers. The funds are part of a $60 million Title IX effort, according to The Times.