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School district in Ohio refuses to let 7th-grade girl play football

August 16, 2013|By Dan Loumena

Makhaela Jenkins, a seventh-grade girl in Ohio who has played youth football, has been told she can't play for her junior high team, leading to appeals for the school district to change its policies.

The Liberty Union-Thurston School District in Baltimore, which is southeast of Columbus, does not allow girls to participate in contact sports with boys. The superintendent in the wake of criticism has said that the district is not violating Title IX, a regulation that gives children equal rights to participate in a program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.

The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said the district's policy is "unacceptable and unlawful" in a letter sent to district Superintendent Paul Mathews, adding there is no "legitimate basis" for denying a girl from playing football.

"It sets me apart from everybody else, and it lets other people know it's OK to be different and you don't have to follow what everybody else does," Makhaela said.

Mathews told WTTE-TV in Columbus that he disagrees.

"We have opportunities for girls, but those opportunities do not include contact sports," Mathews said. "We are not violating Title IX.

"We think we have plenty of places for everyone to fit in, but it is simply a choice," Mathews added.


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