How two teenage girls jump-started a revolution in high school athletics

Peggy Brenden, a senior, played tennis. Toni St. Pierre, a junior, was a cross country runner and skier. All the two talented teenagers wanted was a chance to compete on their high school teams. But in Minnesota in 1972 the only way onto the field with the boys ran through a federal court—so that was where the girls went. Break Point for the first time tells the story of how two teenagers took on the unequal system of high school athletics, setting a legal precedent for schools nationwide before the passage of Title IX. 

• 1972 •

Peggy Brenden

Tennis player / H.S. Senior

With the help of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, Peggy Brenden and Toni St. Pierre fought for the opportunity to compete head-to-head against other high school athletes. Previously, their schools offered only a smattering of athletic options for girls and prohibited girls from competing with boys. 

Their lawsuit would lead to a groundbreaking decision and a chance to participate. They would win and lose with their high school teams and continue to confront barriers because of their gender.

 

 

 

 

Toni St. Pierre

Cross country runner and skier / H.S. Junior

 Upon appeal, their case was upheld by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals establishing a legal precedent that pressed schools across the country to create sports participation opportunities for girls. 

Before Title IX gained clout, their case unlocked the gates to an arena previously constructed with only one gender in mind. Girls, who once stood on the sidelines could claim their identity as athletes. 

• Brenden v ISD 742•

Federal court case heard by Honorable Miles Lord, 
U.S. District Court - District of Minnesota

4

Attorneys

2

Teenage girls

17

Witnesses

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