Georgia native Madison Baxter has played football since second grade. It's a passion of hers, and she's great at it. In fact, last year, Baxter was starting left defensive tackle for Strong Rock Christian Academy, a proud accomplishment for any sixth-grader.
But this year, Baxter might not be able to play at all. A school official told her that she would not be welcome at try-outs the following year. When her mother, a female police officer in another male-dominated field, met with the school administrator, she was told that her daughter was banned from playing football because "the boys were going to start lusting after her and have impure thoughts about her and that the locker-room talk was not appropriate for a female to hear." The school administrator made sure to add that he was not being sexist, just that he thought that "men and women are created equal but different."
That logic doesn't quite make sense. Leaving aside the fact that Baxter has her own locker room and the fact that teenagers of both genders will have sexual thoughts regardless of who is playing on what sports team, why is Baxter paying the price here? If boys are the ones having impure thoughts and developing attachments, isn't it on them to control themselves?
Like most of our society when it comes to gender-related issues, Strong Rock Christian Academy would answer that question with a no. They would rather kick out the person who is different than let the entire team learn from the diversity.
In fact, it seems like there's actually a lot everyone could learn from Baxter playing on the football team. It shows boys that girls can be just as athletic and physically capable, and it proves to girls that they can succeed in fields that aren't usually considered an option for them. And while some boys may develop feelings for Baxter, lustful or otherwise, it's also a good exercise to teach them that having such thoughts does not give you the right to act on them.
But the school would rather forgo all of that because men and women are "equal but different." Clearly, not equal enough to keep playing sports, but different in that the burden of sexuality falls squarely on the girls.
Baxter isn't alone. Football is traditionally considered an all-male sport, but more and more girls are playing every single year. In the last four years alone, there has been a 17% spike in the number of girls on high school football teams, coming to a total of 1,500 female football players around the nation. They deserve the chance to play the game they love regardless of their gender, because once the helmet is on, the football doesn't discriminate. And neither should anyone else.
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