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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, June 15, 2000

P R E P _ S P O R T S

Hawaii State Seal

Cayetano signs
gender equity bill

By Dave Reardon
and Tim Crouse


A 28-year-old federal law received a boost locally yesterday. But just how big a boost is debatable.

Gov. Ben Cayetano signed into state law a bill committing the state to gender equity in public school sports.

Title IX, federal legislation from 1972, guaranteed non-discrimination in education, including athletics.

But gender equity advocates say girls are not receiving the same opportunities as boys, meaning the state is not following the law.

The bill Cayetano signed yesterday is a weaker version of one he vetoed last year.

The new law calls for the state to develop a strategic plan with recommendations and a timetable to achieve equity and to submit a report to the Legislature.

It also provides for establishment of an Advisory Commission to ensure schools make "substantial progress toward compliance" with the state law.

Critics question whether the new state law has the power to change anything.

But those who worked toward getting it signed say it is important.

"(It) shows the administration's commitment to this," said Jill Nunokawa, who spearheaded the effort. "It's a step in the right direction."

Former Iolani and University of Hawaii basketball star BJ Itoman attended the signing.

"It was a step that needed to be taken," she said. "I'm happy that all of Jill's work the past couple years is starting to pay off."

Andrea Nishioka, a 1997 Roosevelt graduate who now plays water polo at UH, said the bill will help provide more opportunities for girls in high school.

"I didn't have a chance for a championship game in high school and now it will hopefully open up more opportunities. It was really exciting watching (Cayetano) sign the bill, knowing that it passed," she said.

Mari Yogi is a water polo player who will be a senior at Kaiser High School in the fall.

"We've been trying to get this passed for a long time," Yogi said. "We (girls) have been playing water polo for about six years and we've never had a state championship.

"We never even had equipment -- it was all donated -- and our coaches had to volunteer their time. Hopefully it will help in future years," she said.

Said Nunokawa: "We don't have water polo or junior varsity softball or soccer. We don't have the numbers."

(Boys do not have a state championship in water polo, either.)

"With the signing today we have put into place a strategic plan and requirements," Nunokawa said. "We're trying to work with the Department of Education and Superintendent (Paul) LeMahieu in bringing about equity to all in education."

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