Fairfield Co. School Superintendent: Girl Can't Play on Football Team
Updated: Tuesday, August 13 2013, 08:59 PM EDT
BALTIMORE, Ohio (Lu Ann Stoia/Ken Hines) -- A central Ohio seventh grader is challenging her school district's decision to kick her off a football team because of her sex.
Makhaela Jenkins has played youth football for years in the Baltimore area, but was recently denied a spot on her middle school's team despite the fact that coaches do not cut players.
Instead, Makhaela was left off the active roster because of a long-standing Liberty Union-Thurston District policy that prohibits girls from playing contact sports like football and wrestling.
"Some people have different goals and dreams they want to follow, and if they want to play a sport, [they] should be able to play a sport no matter what gender you are," Makhaela said.
The team's coaches have given Makhaela a roster spot and a locker, but has been told by district superintendent Paul Mathews that she can not participate in any games or contact drills.
"We are not violating Title Nine," Matthews said. "We have opportunities for girls, but those opportunities do not include contact sports."
Makhaela's family members believe she has earned the right to play for the seventh-grade team due to her hard work, which has included practice and weight-lifting.
Many members of the Baltimore community have asked district board members to consider updating the policy that is preventing Makhaela from playing football, but that effort is unlikely to receive support from Superintendent Matthews.
"We think we have plenty of places for everyone to fit in, but it is simply a choice," Matthews said. "[A] Choice our district has the option to make."