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Sean D. Reyes
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Federal Judge: Constitutional and Title IX Rights Not Violated for Access to Girls in Football

SALT LAKE CITY (3/2/2021) — The Granite, Jordan and Canyons school districts do not have to provide separate football teams for girls, according to Federal Judge Howard Nielson on Monday. Judge Nielson ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by Sam Gordon and other plaintiffs against the districts and the Utah High School Activities Association.

Utah Assistant Attorney General Rachel Terry successfully argued the case for the Districts.

The Judge says that neither the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution nor Title IX were violated in the districts. Gordon and the plaintiffs claimed girls were not offered equal opportunities in the districts’ football teams, and should be offered separate football teams.

Judge Nielson’s opinion says, in part: “It is well settled that laws that discriminate on the basis of se are subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The mere Fact that Defendants do not provide separate football teams for boys and girls is not discrimination on the basis of sex, however. To the contrary, it is undisputed that girls are permitted to play football and do in fact play, albeit in extremely limited numbers.”

After the ruling, Assistant AG Rachel Terry released this statement:

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling affirming our position that Canyons, Granite and Jordan School Districts did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution or Title IX in their athletics programs. As addressed in this case, with respect to football specifically, all students, male and female, are welcomed and encouraged to participate on their respective high school teams. The Districts will continue to strive to expand opportunities for all students and to ensure equal opportunities for male and female students in athletics and activities. “

News coverage of the ruling:

Associated Press:

Fox 13 Utah:

Salt Lake Tribune: