Ohio middle school girl takes on school district which refuses to let her play football

Cameron Smith

A seventh-grade girl in Ohio is challenging her school district after it continues to refuse her request to compete as part of her school's football team.

Makhaela Jenkins has been banned from the seventh grade football team because her district bars girls from contact sports — YouTube
Makhaela Jenkins has been banned from the seventh grade football team because her district bars girls from contact sports — YouTube

As reported by the Associated Press and Columbus TV network WTTE, 12-year-old Makhaela Jenkins has launched a full offensive against the Liberty Union-Thurston School District, which refuses to let her compete as part of the seventh grade football team at Baltimore (Ohio) Middle School.

Jenkins was refused membership on the Baltimore football team because the school district has long featured a complete ban on girls playing in any contact sports.

According to Liberty Union-Thurston Superintendent Paul Mathews, the district's decision to ban all girls from contact sports is not a violation of Title IX because girls have the opportunity to compete in non-contact sports.

"We are not violating Title IX," Mathews told WTTE. "We have opportunities for girls, but those opportunities do not include contact sports.

"We think we have plenty of places for everyone to fit in, but it is simply a choice."

As one might expect, Jenkins refuses to accept this ban lying down, saying that her inability to compete for her school's team limits her opportunities for individual expression. The ACLU has come out in support of the 12-year-old, who has played youth football for a number of years, and she insists that she'll keep fighting until she is allowed to keep playing alongside the boys she always has.

"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," Jenkins told WTTE. "It sets me apart from everybody else, and it lets other people know it’s OK to be different and you don’t have to follow what everybody else does."

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