Sports are a civil right for disabled, US says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Education Department is breaking new ground with a directive that says students with disabilities must be given a fair shot to play on a traditional sports team or have their own leagues.

That message is being delivered to the nation's schools on Friday. The order is reminiscent of the Title IX expansion four decades ago of athletic opportunities for girls and women.

Education Department officials emphasize the goal is to insist schools cannot exclude students based on their disabilities if they can keep up with their classmates.

Students with disabilities could join traditional teams if officials could make "reasonable modifications" to accommodate them.

But if those adjustments would fundamentally alter a sport or give the student an advantage, the department is directing schools to create parallel athletic programs.

There is no deadline for schools to comply.

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