Makhaela Jenkins has been banned from her school’s football team. The 12-year-old girl was kicked off the team because of her gender. The Baltimore, Ohio, school district bans girls from playing contact sports.
Liberty Union-Thurston District superintendent Paul Mathews defends the policy. As reported by CBS News, Mathews denies gender bias:
“We are not violating Title IX… We have opportunities for girls, but those opportunities do not include contact sports… We think we have plenty of places for everyone to fit in, but it is simply a choice.”
Makhaela Jenkins disagrees. She does not want to play sports reserved for girls. She wants to play football.
Jenkins thinks students “should be able to play a sport no matter what gender [they] are.”
Title IX ensures gender equality in educational settings. As the school is federally funded, they are not allowed to discriminate based on gender.
Unfortunately, the rule is open for interpretation. Each individual district makes their own rules about sports.
Most schools have sports teams for boys and girls. However, many districts ban girls from contact sports.
Jenkins knew she would have to work hard to compete with the boys. She spent months preparing and building her strength.
Despite her efforts, she was banned from the school’s football team.
As reported by Fox News, Makhaela Jenkins has gained a lot of support. The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union contacted superintendent Matthews about the issue.
The letter stated that the district’s policy is “unacceptable and unlawful.” They further explained that the school district has no “legitimate basis” for banning girls from contact sports.
Makhaela Jenkins truly enjoys football, and has played on other local teams. She also explains that playing football “sets [her] apart from everybody else.” She wants other students to know that it is “OK to be different.”
[Image via Flickr]