Equip for Equality, a advocacy group for people with disabilities, reported Sept. 18 that they and Fenwick High School senior Mary Kate Callahan have reached a settlement with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) on Sept. 10.
The settlement allows for Callahan, who uses a wheelchair, to compete in state swimming competitions this year.
Callahan and Equip for Equality sued the IHSA in May to allow disabled students the right to compete in state meets. Previously, the IHSA did not have athletic standards for disabled students and did not allow them to compete in state meets.
Earlier this month, in a video posted by the Chicago Tribune, Callahan talked about her desire to compete with her team and the hope that this year—her last at Fenwick—she would finally be allowed.
According to the settlement, disabled swimmers will be allowed to compete in the 50-yeard, 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle, and the 100-yard breaststroke. Students who are entered by their schools can compete in up to four different individual events in sectionals, and those students to qualify will be guaranteed to participate in at least two events in the State Finals, according to the press release.
Furthermore, there will be two qualification standards for students with disabilities who compete—class A and B.
Although the settlement will allow Callahan to compete in events this fall, some issues still remain unresolved. The Illinois attorney general's office is continuing to pursue an agreement in its own lawsuit.
Natalie Bauer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois attorney general's office, told the Peoria Journal Star:
"This is a good initial step to allow Mary Kate and others to swim this fall, but it still leaves open a tremendous number of outstanding issues that need to be addressed — all the other sports teams and the question of how disabled athletes can earn points for their team."