Minot State University professor emeritus Eric Clausen has filed his second federal complaint alleging that he was retaliated against by the National Geographic Society after he complained that the contest discriminated against girls because virtually no girls have won the national title.
Clausen believes that the National Geographic Society violates federal laws on gender equity and says that he was warned not to raise these concerns.
Clausen’s first lawsuit was dismissed in 2005 in Clausen v. National Geographic Society, 664 F. Supp. 2d 1038. In his first complaint, he recounted how he demanded a change to give girls a better chance or threatened to create his own competition:
Plaintiff then prepared for the [ND] Alliance board a draft grant application with a core program and budget identical to the program and budget in the 2005 grant application the [NGS] Foundation had deferred and addressed the New Guidelines requirements by offering to work with NGS to modify the Bee so girls would have [**8] an equal opportunity to win and so the Bee would better address the National Geography Standards, but that if NGS did not want to change the Bee, then the [ND] Alliance would design its own statewide student geography competition with the goals of entering into competition with the Bee and eventually replacing the Bee as North Dakota’s primary statewide student geography competition. . . .
Here is how U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland rejected the underlying claim:
The Court finds as a matter of law that an alleged failure by females to win the national geography bee as often as males neither establishes nor supports a Title IX violation. Title IX neither guarantees nor suggests that females must win as often as males. Clausen has failed to allege any facts to establish that he was engaged in a protected activity, nor has he presented any facts or legal authority to support the premise that males winning a national geography bee more often than females supports a Title IX violation.
The Eighth Circuit upheld the ruling.
Clausen insists that the “NGS knows and has known since the Bee competitions began that Bee competitions do not provide girls with an equal opportunity to participate in the higher-level competitions.” He notes that only 2 out of the 54 state winners in 2009 were girls and only one girl advanced in 2010.
I am not sure how the competition is supposed to correct this program other than having separate competitions for boys and girls to guarantee that one of the two finalists with always be a girl –even if there are boys who can answer more geography questions. If there are too few girls able to make the finals, the solution would appear to be found in programs to encourage girls to compete in greater numbers. However, that does not make the competition itself discriminatory or violative of IX which mandates that
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”
There is no denial on the basis of gender when children are asked the same geographic questions.