Sunday, May 08, 2005

Girl wrestlers angry at easy wins

Under the general heading of "can't win for losing" comes this story out of Seattle about middle-school girl wrestlers who are upset because some boys forfeit the match rather than wrestle against them.

The boys attend a couple of Christian schools, and their parents and the schools think it's not good for the boys and girls to be rolling around on the floor together. So if they go the match, and find themselves up against one of the handful of girl wrestlers in the league, they forfeit. The girl gets the points toward the state championship.

But that's not good enough. The girls went to the match to wrestle and they'd better be able to wrestle or there will be lawyers.

The girls argue that the matches are not at all sexual. "When you walk on the mat, you're not a girl, you're not a guy anymore. You're just there to wrestle," one girl wrestler said. I've never been a boy, though I've known a few, and I suspect they wouldn't share that sentiment.

School officials are dealing with federal regulations about what to do with a sport that only a few girls want to participate in. Title IX requires the public schools to provide a "wrestling experience" for them. Under Title IX, the only alternatives to having girls wrestle boys would be to get enough girls to form their own league or shut down wrestling for everybody.

But what the lawsuits seem headed for is the exclusion of the Christian schools from the public schools' sports programs.

The father of one of the girls is outraged:
Connors, a former Episcopal president and one-time pastoral assistant for social justice at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, believes religion should play a role in public life. "But there's a limit," he said.

"If my religion says that once a year on a full moon, I had to get into a hit-and-run accident, I think the cops would take exception to that," he said. "That's an extreme example, but if you come into the public domain, you can't develop a policy that discriminates against people."

He's filed a complaint alleging the Vashon Island School District is violating Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools, by allowing the policies to exist. If the policies aren't changed, he says, he'll make a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and, if necessary, file a lawsuit.
Yes, I'd say that's an extreme example -- since we're not talking about injuring anyone -- and an extreme reaction. The rules are that anyone can refuse to wrestle -- and forfeit a match -- for any reason. Any reason, apparently, except that the one doing the forfeiting doesn't want to fight a girl.
The principal at McMurray Middle School, Greg Allison, said the school values its female wrestlers and plans to attempt to get the policies changed, too.

"We can't necessarily change a private school district's policy," he said. "But we can certainly try to influence it as best we can."
Anyone want to bet that by the beginning of the next school year, those schools will be disinvited from participating in school sports?

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