by Sasha Ryu
During the winter season, the LGHS cheer team performs for the boys’ basketball teams, but never for either of the girls’ teams. It would be one thing if the cheerleaders simply didn’t have the time to perform for multiple teams during the season, but that’s not the case. There are two cheer squads at LGHS — varsity and junior varsity cheer. Rather than having one team perform for the boys’ varsity basketball team and another for the girls’ varsity team, both perform exclusively for the varsity and JV boys.
Our school’s cheerleading squad exists to promote school spirit and support the athletes at LGHS. The fact that the school provides this for both boys’ teams but to none of the girls’ teams is simply unacceptable. It sends a message that our school’s administration and athletic department values their female athletes less than their male counterparts, and it reinforces the problematic notion that girls are second-class athletes, while the “real” athletes are the boys.
In 1972, President Nixon signed a comprehensive federal law known as Title IX, which states 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 education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In 2007, the Office of Civil Rights mandated that, under Title IX, schools were required to provide cheerleaders at an equal number of girls’ and boys’ sporting events, and that failure to do so would fall under ‘denying athletes equal benefits on the basis of sex.’ Although the ruling was limited to upstate New York, schools all across the nation were inspired to follow suit — LGHS, however, was not one of them. To this day, the cheer squad has yet to officially cheer for any of the school’s female sports teams.
It’s disappointing to me that, despite the fact that these female athletes work just as hard as their male counterparts, they have yet to receive the equal support and recognition that they deserve.
It’s time to set tradition aside and ask ourselves if our school’s practices truly reflect our community’s values. I, for one, think it’s time for a change.