Schools must give students with disabilities access to sports programs or provide equal alternative options, the U.S. Department of Education has ordered.
Advocates say this requirement could do for students with disabilities what Title IX did to grant equal opportunities for women to compete in sports.
Schools will have to make "reasonable modifications" to allow for students with disabilities to participate in sports or create parallel athletic programs that have equal standing. It does not guarantee students with disabilities a spot on competitive teams, but says schools cannot exclude students based on their disabilities, the Associated Press said.
"Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.
The new directive from the education department's civil rights division explicitly tells schools and colleges that access to interscholastic, intramural and intercollegiate athletics is a right.
Via The Associated Press