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Gender Discrimination In Youth Lacrosse

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(Patrick Smith/Getty Images Sport)

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images Sport)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP)–

A former coach accusing a youth lacrosse league of discriminating against girls by providing them with fewer resources than boys is clashing with the league over whether a federal law mandating equal opportunities for men and women in athletics applies to the case.

Claudia Harris sued in Stamford Superior Court in December, saying the New Canaan Lacrosse Association violated Title IX by providing boys with more money, equipment and experienced referees and a lower ratio of coaches to players.

The league says the lawsuit has no merit and Title IX doesn’t apply because it doesn’t receive federal financial assistance.

Harris argues in a legal brief that Title IX applies to not-for-profit organizations, such as the league, because they receive federal financial subsidies in the form of tax exemptions and tax deductible donations.

Both sides cite Supreme Court cases to back up their arguments.

Title IX lawsuits typically arise with college and secondary school sports. Experts say the lawsuit is unusual because it targets a youth league not affiliated with a school.

Harris, who says she was dismissed as a coach and board member in late 2010 after raising gender and safety issues, argues that the law isn’t limited to high school and college programs.

“The only limiting factor is whether an organization receives federal financial assistance,” the lawsuit states. “Civil rights legislation has always taken a slow but certain path to a wider and wider application. The time is now to apply Title IX to youth sports.”

The league denies it discriminates against girls and has said Harris was involved in escalating personal conflicts with assistant coaches.

The league has said it goes to great lengths to provide equal access to boys and girls and to provide a safe environment.

     (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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