LoboLinks | Spanning Gaps in Sports: Disabled Teens

Spanning Gaps in Sports: Disabled Teens

Date Added: July 09, 2008 02:47:48 PM
Category: SPORTS
In the early seventies, sports were pretty much considered a man’s world. After much lobbing for changes; the Title IX was passed in 1972. This Educational Amendment stated that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. This new law allowed females in schools to be given the chance to play sports and join sports teams. Prior to this law passing, many females were not allowed to partake in sporting activities and very few schools were required to set up female sports teams. Today, history is repeating itself; the Maryland General Assembly has recently passed a new law known as the Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act. This landmark case may set the precedence for other states.

The Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act deals with the exclusion of disabled individuals in sporting activities and physical education programs throughout the educational community; this includes higher education, as well. It seems that even after 35 years of progress; discrimination against American’s is still present throughout our country; this time regarding individuals with disabilities.

The basis for this decision in Maryland was partly reached when questions arose concerning the facts of the case. First, individuals with disabilities are three times more likely to be sedentary than their non-disabled counterparts. This means that physical education is a hugely needed priority for these Americans. Physical education can extend their lives, build their self-esteem, and overall improve their well-being. Second, neither the NCAA nor the National Federation of State High School Associations; sanction sports for individuals with disabilities. Although, many individuals participate in Special Olympic Activities; this is a non-profit organization and has nothing to do with sanctioned athletic teams or sports at school. Lastly, there has never been any type of legislation governing this type of discrimination in sporting events regarding school activities; not in the Title IX nor in the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act in Maryland requires schools to not discriminate based upon individuals with disabilities. It requires federally assisted educational facilities to allow these individuals to participate in physical education and athletic programs, develop policies and procedures that address this issue. As well, the act requires schools to promote and encourage participation by individuals with disabilities. All schools that are financially funded by the state of Maryland are then required to submit written compliance reports detailing these requirements annually.

Maryland’s law was passed just this last April; and currently, there are efforts underway to promote and pass legislation in other states; as well as, federally; that will address this matter. It is up to American’s to address their representatives and their congress regarding discrimination in our educational system. Fairness and Equality is a right to all American’s in this country; not just the healthy and pretty people.