U.S. Supreme Court
O'Connor v. Board of Education, 449 U.S. 1301 (1980)
O'Connor by O'Connor v. Board of Education of School District 23
Decided November 4, 1980
449 U.S. 1301
An application to vacate the Court of Appeals' stay pending appeal of the District Court's preliminary injunction requiring respondent school officials to allow plaintiff applicant, a female junior high school student, to try out for the boys' basketball teams, is denied. As required by an interscholastic athletic conference's rules, the school maintained separate teams for boys and girls for contact sports, including basketball, and the refusal to allow applicant to try out for the boys' teams was based solely on her sex. The Court of Appeals' en banc decision to continue the stay entered by a panel of the court is entitled to great deference. It appears at this stage of the proceedings that the gender-based classification, which apparently was adopted in full compliance with the regulations of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, is reasonable in substantially all of its applications, and it cannot be said to be unconstitutional simply because it might appear arbitrary in an individual case such as applicant's. Without a gender-based classification in competitive contact sports, there would be a substantial risk that boys would dominate the girls' programs and deny them an equal opportunity to compete in interscholastic events.