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Forty years ago, the highest court in Massachusetts ruled in Attorney General v. Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association that the state constitution's newly-added equal rights amendment prohibited the blanket exclusion of boys from girls' athletic teams. The state’s constitutional law departed from Title IX, as well as that of other states, in providing a legal foundation for a wider selection of gender-integrated high school sports. However, most sports remain segregated by sex.

The Author opines that sport organizers in Massachusetts have missed an opportunity to provide students a more balanced menu of athletic opportunities that incorporate both sex-segregated and gender-free sports for the advantages each uniquely provides. This Article further describes how gender-free sport can address logistical challenges posed by segregating boys' and girls' opportunities within the same sport, mitigate the stereotypes of inferior girls' sports, and maximize inclusion of transgender athletes. While segregated sports serve an important role to protect and preserve opportunities for female athletes whose interests and abilities have historically and continuously been suppressed, the Author suggests it is time to start thinking not about replacing girls' sports altogether but adding more gender-free sports. Massachusetts should identify those sports in which separation does more harm than good, and test whether degendering sport provides net advantages.

Recommended Citation

Erin E. Buzuvis, Attorney General v. MIAA at Forty Years: A Critical Examination of Gender Segregation in High School Athletics in Massachusetts, 25 TEX. J. C.L. & C.R. 1 (2019).