HONOLULU - The fight to put women and men on an equal playing field - literally starts on the field. Some experts say, girls who play sports are more likely to become leaders in their professional lives. ACLU lawyers say that's one of the reasons they filed a lawsuit against the state's Department of Education.

What these young women do here, could likely lead them to success later, at work and in life. Jayma Meyer is an attorney in the Litigation Department at Simpson Thacher Bartlett, LLC, and says, "Playing sports leads to more self confidence, self worth,  self esteem, and purpose. Girls who play sports learn life skills such as resilience and teamwork."

A federal law passed in 1972 called Title IX directs public schools across the nation to give boys and girls equal resources and opportunities in sports. The ACLU says Hawaii's state public school system isn't doing that. That's why, on December 6, it filed a lawsuit on behalf of two female students.

ACLU of Hawaii's legal director Mateo Caballero says, "Half a century after Title IX was passed, our clients and their peers at Campbell High School have not received this type of treatment."

The DOE has until December 28 to respond. It told us it couldn't comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit cites issues like: Campbell High's female athletes going a mile away from school to change at a fast food restaurant, or using the bathroom in the bushes, because they have no locker rooms nearby.

Elizabeth Kristen, Director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program at Legal Aid at Work, says, "It's with some disappointment that we find these problems remain persistent."

ACLU lawyers quote a 2015 Ernst & Young/ESPN-W study, Where Will You Find Your Next Leader?, that looked at how athletics affected Fortune 500 women leaders. Meyer cites the study as saying, "Ninety three percent of those women played sports in high school. Most of those women attribute their success to having played sports."

When denied the chance to play, the opposite happens. Meyer continues, "When opportunities are inequitable, girls feel degraded and marginalized."

That report also estimates women's success would have a massive impact on the world economy. It says "if women were to participate in the labor markets identically to men, this would add an additional US$28 trillion, or 26%, to annual global GDP in 2025. This impact is about the size of the combined US and Chinese economies today."

Meyer concludes, "We need to empower the girls at Campbell." ACLU lawyers say it's a win-win: helping girls now, will help the global community in the future.

The ACLU of Hawaii filed this as a class action lawsuit. If you or someone you know is a Hawaii student who feels like you haven't been treated equally in school, you can contact the ACLU of Hawaii confidentially to see if you qualify to join. Just go to acluhi.org.