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Female football player faces discrimination because of gender

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maddy Blythe, a middle school student in Locust Grove, Ga., has a passion for football. She found her niche on her school football team last year as a sixth-grader, becoming the only female player on the team and accomplishing four to five sacks (depending on who is counting) during the season.

Blythe was supported by her teammates and the student body at her school, Strong Rock Christian, but its CEO, Patrick Stuart, notified Blythe in June that she would no longer be allowed to play on the school football team for the sole reason that she is a female.

Stuart validated his decision by saying the male players would have impure thoughts if a female remained on the team. He also commented on the inappropriate behavior and language that Blythe would overhear from the male players. He cited a Bible verse that says, "Men and women are created equal, but different" and said he prayed about the situation but found that men and women should not play on the same sports teams.

According to 11Alive News in Atlanta, the Strong Rock Christian School athletic director responded to them by email, saying, "Our official policy is that middle school girls play girl sports and middle school boys play boy sports."

This is obviously a case of discrimination. The school had no right to remove Blythe from the team without probable cause. Blythe has the freedom of expression and civil rights laws that protect her ability to play football for her school.

Blythe's mother, Cassy, created the Facebook page "Let her play" to raise awareness for all female athletes and keep Blythe's supporters up-to-date on her situation. It currently has nearly 49,000 likes.

A post from Cassy regarding her daughter's case reads, "For us this isn't a private vs. a public education. It's not religion vs. non-religion. This is a human rights issue. Here is a girl who was allowed to play and played well. A determined girl who gave it her all and made a positive name for herself on the team. An athlete who wore the same uniform and met the same standards as her teammates. A person who lost it all for the sole reason she is a female."

Blythe had to make a decision by July 20 on what she would do in the fall. On July 22, she posted her decision on the Facebook page.

She said she would not suffer the football stipulations and support her school's discrimination toward her, and instead will participate in online home schooling next year. She will play football with a local home-schooling group and recreational leagues. She also wishes to join a traveling team and is looking for a private kicking coach.

"This is not the end of my story," she concluded in the post. "Many great things are to come and we plan on taking our fight much higher. We will not stop until we hear the words Let Her Play!"

To follow Maddy's story and the stories of other female athletes, become a fan of "Let her play" at www.facebook.com/LetHerPlay.


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