Lawmaker says legislature to blame for Title IX lawsuit


Changing in teachers closets, in plain view on the practice field, even at a nearby Burger King bathroom –  the ACLU of Hawaii says that’s what female athletes at Campbell High School deal with daily. 

The organization is suing the Department of Education on behalf of two unnamed female students.

“I know from talking to our plaintiffs, it made them feel like they weren’t valued. It made them feel like they were second class compared to the boys which is ridiculous,” said ACLU Executive Director Joshua Wisch on the school’s lack of a female locker room.  

The ACLU says the DOE is not complying with Title XI, a federal law that bars schools from discriminating against females. 

The lawsuit states it’s been an issue for decades. The organization says it’s been working with the DOE for 10 months to correct the problem, but to no avail. 

“The schools and the DOE have to understand that girls are equally valuable, they should be treated equally and they need to make this plan work,” said Legal Aid at Work attorney Elizabeth Kristen. 

Representative Bob McDermott’s daughter attends Campbell High School. He says he agrees with the ACLU’s lawsuit – but the Department of Education is not to blame. 

“People at fault is the legislature. It’s us. We get in the way of the Department of Education’s funding list, and say these are our top priorities. And then we put things in that we think are more important for our districts. Selfish things,” said McDermott. 

On Wednesday, the state awarded $23,000 for Title IX improvements to locker room at Kaimuki High School.

McDermott says the DOE wants to make its school Title IX compliant – and that he and his fellow legislators must do a better job. 

“This didn’t happen overnight. This has been brewing and bad decisions we have made here have led us today got us a situation with the ACLU that said ‘enough already.'”

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