A parent of a student-athlete at Sevier County High School has initiated a lawsuit, claiming that the school system engages in unequal treatment of female athletes, which violates federal law.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Knoxville. It asserts that the school fails to provide female athletes with funding, equipment, and facilities that are on par with those provided to male athletes, thereby violating Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Title IX, established by the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. It ensures that students have equal opportunities to participate in school-sponsored activities, including athletics.

The Fourteenth Amendment mandates that states cannot deny any individual within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.

The lawsuit provides several instances of alleged disparate treatment between the baseball and softball programs at Sevier County High School. It contends that the baseball team enjoys exclusive access to on-campus facilities for practices and games, benefiting from superior locker rooms and dugouts. In contrast, the softball players are relegated to an inferior, off-campus field shared with city programs.

Moreover, while the baseball program boasts an on-campus, climate-controlled fieldhouse with indoor hitting lanes and advanced pitching machines equipped with video and analytics capabilities, the softball program lacks access to indoor hitting lanes. Instead, they have an outdoor cage with a bare concrete floor shared with the county.

The lawsuit further claims that softball players often have to arrange their own transportation for practices, away games, and offseason activities. In contrast, the baseball and football teams are provided with buses more frequently for their travel needs.

The plaintiff seeks an injunction that would compel the school system to develop and implement a budget and plan to provide greater support to female athletes. Additionally, the lawsuit requests reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

Sevier County High School officials have yet to issue an official response regarding the lawsuit, as the legal proceedings are still ongoing.

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