An 11-year-old girl who’s played on a Christian school’s football team has been told she’s not welcome to try out for the next school year because boys on the team are having “impure thoughts” about her.
While in sixth grade, Madison Baxter was the starting defensive end on her team at Strong Rock Christian Academy, in the suburbs of Atlanta, and was praised for her performance on the field. After she was recently told she could not try out for the team for the upcoming year, her mother, Cassy Blythe, met with school CEO Patrick Stuart about the matter.
“I was told that the reasons behind it were one, that 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, even though she had a separate locker room from the boys,” Blythe told Atlanta TV station WXIA. Stuart also reportedly told her men and women were “equal but different” and that he had been praying about the subject.
Blythe said she found the explanation “absolutely ridiculous.” The boys need to be able to handle their urges and thoughts, just as Madison should be able to handle her own, Blythe said.
The family has appealed the decision. For Madison, not being on the team means school will be less fun. “It’s like taking my dream and throwing it in the trash,” she said.
A “Let Her Play” Facebook page has been set up for Madison. AlterNet contributor Travis Waldron notes that her situation “is unfortunately not unique: A Philadelphia youth league banned an 11-year-old girl last fall before reinstating her after a nationwide petition drive called attention to her case.”
Waldron adds, “There are more than 1,500 girls playing football at American high schools, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, and that number has increased more than 17 percent in just four years. It’s not just a boys’ sport anymore. And more than that, playing football with a girl could have been a valuable experience for Baxter’s teammates about how to appropriately interact with women and girls, about how a person’s sex doesn’t make her inherently inferior athletically or in any other way, and about how having ‘impure thoughts’ don’t mean you have license to act on them.”
See video reports from WXIA below.