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Boy can’t sue for being barred from girls’ team December 1, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Discriminate, Discrimination, Football, gender, gender discrimination, Sexism.

The irony of this story about gender discrimination is that just today ABC News carried a article called “Female Football Player Follows in Pro Brother’s Footsteps.”  The article talks about the accomplishment of the female football player, Holley Mangold, who was the first female to play a down from scrimmage in an Ohio Division III high school football game.  It would seem then as though there is not a logical standard to decide which students can or cannot participate in sports teams predominated by the opposite sex.   The featured article follows below:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A boy who wanted to compete on his high school’s girls’ gymnastics team cannot sue for gender discrimination, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The District 4 Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s dismissal of Keith Michael Bukowski’s lawsuit against the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which has a rule prohibiting boys from competing in girls’ sports. Bukowski filed the lawsuit as a junior at Stevens Point Area High School in 2004. He argued the WIAA rule preventing him from trying out for and competing on the girl’s gymnastics team discriminated against him because his school did not have a boys’ team.

Bukowski argued that the rule violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as a federal law known as Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds.

In a 3-0 ruling, the court said Bukowski failed to show that WIAA, a nonprofit organization of public and private high schools that sets rules for sports competition, could be sued under either argument.

Bukowski didn’t prove WIAA was an arm of the state that could be sued for the constitutional violation or that it received federal funding as required in a Title IX claim, the court said. The ruling backed a Portage County judge who came to a similar conclusion.

Courts have previously ruled that letting boys compete on girls’ teams jeopardizes opportunities for girls.

Bukowski’s attorney, Jared Redfield, said he would likely appeal to the state Supreme Court. He said the ruling means “the WIAA can discriminate at will, which doesn’t make any sense at all.”

But Bukowski, who had competed in gymnastics at a local YMCA, argued the case was similar to recent examples of girls who were allowed to compete on boys’ teams in football and wrestling.

Redfield said female sports no longer deserved what he called a privileged status because participation among women has increased sharply in recent decades.

“Why not treat the genders equally?” he asked. “If women can go on our football team and they can wrestle in tournaments, why in the world if there’s no access for a male to participate in gymnastics should they not be on the girls’ team?”

But WIAA executive director Doug Chickering said females remain underrepresented in sports. He said allowing Bukowski to compete would have put pressure on WIAA to grant frequent requests from boys who want to play on girls’ volleyball teams.

“Our fundamental reason for denying participation was that we didn’t want to see girls displaced from girls’ teams by boys,” he said.

Bukowski graduated earlier this year so the legal fight by him and his mother would affect only other students in the future. Hundreds of students at his school signed a petition backing his efforts to compete in 2004 but courts rejected his attempts for a faster ruling that would have allowed him to compete.

Bukowski, a student at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, may have lost an opportunity for a college scholarship as a result, Redfield said.

Principal Mike Devine said the school does not have a boys’ team because of lack of interest and he was following the WIAA rule in refusing to allow Bukowski on the girls’ team. He said the school recently hired Bukowski as an assistant coach for the girls’ gymnastics team.

“We’re glad to have Keith working with our kids right now. He does have some talent in gymnastics,” he said. “Even though he couldn’t compete with us, he’s teaching our kids. That’s a somewhat positive outcome for this.”

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Fox Sports

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