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Settlement sets stage for upgrades for girls’ softball at Lexington High

Lexington High Softball Stadium vs Baseball stadium: a Title IX violation?

Sam Light was among a group of parents who pressed for improvements in the Lexington High school's softball field, an effort that included a federal Title IX complaint alleging the school has unequal sports facilities for male and female athletes.
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Sam Light was among a group of parents who pressed for improvements in the Lexington High school's softball field, an effort that included a federal Title IX complaint alleging the school has unequal sports facilities for male and female athletes.

Facilities for the girls’ softball team at Lexington High School will be improved significantly by Feb. 1 under a legal settlement reached Tuesday.

Lexington 1 officials didn’t admit in the agreement to violating Title IX requirements to provide sports facilities for girl athletes that equal those for boys.

School officials “never favored one sport or groups over another,” Lexington 1 said in a statement.

The improvements plan was developed after parents of one softball player went to federal court alleging inequities.

In the statement, Lexington 1 said its officials were working on upgrades when the legal challenge was filed after months of complaints about conditions at the 24-year-old field that some parents called unsafe for players and fans.

The renovations coming include better dugouts, lighting, backstop, outfield fencing, sound system, practice facilities and access to weight training for players as well as additional seating and improved restrooms and and a new concession stand for fans.

It’s a package that will put softball facilities “on par” with those for boys’ baseball, upgraded a year ago, the statement said.

“The baseball field was upgraded first because it was in worse condition,” the statement said.

No cost for the changes coming was available Tuesday, Lexington 1 spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.

Parents received much of what they wanted.

Lexington 1 said in its statement that “to prolong its defense and divert its resources (time, effort and legal costs ) away from the students was not in the best interest” of families it serves.

The settlement is only a first step, said Samuel Light, who with wife Tanya brought the legal challenge as part of an effort by a group parents seeking improvements. Their daughter played on the softball team last spring.

“I will not be satisfied until every every high school in Lexington 1 is the same,” he said.

The settlement approved by U.S. Judge Michelle Childs also requires school officials to “make adjustments necessary to ensure that equivalent equipment, supplies and uniforms are provided” in all sports, not just softball.

Lexington 1 also agreed that sports for both genders “will be supported equitably and that all sports shall be funded on a gender-neutral basis.”

There were 508 boys playing in 24 sports and 289 girls playing in 21 sports at Lexington High last spring.

Lexington 1 is home to five high schools – Lexington, Gilbert, Pelion, River Bluff and White Knoll.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483

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