December 16, 2011
A male cheerleader in Michigan accidentally disqualified his squad from a recent cheerleading competition for the most basic of all reasons: He's a boy.
Brandon Urbas is like many other American teens: He spent much of his youth dreaming of being a high school varsity athlete. The only difference was the sport he hoped to compete in: Urbas wanted to be a cheerleader.
In 2011, Urbas achieved that dream, joining the St. Clair Shores (Mich.) Lakeview High varsity cheerleading team. Despite being the only male cheerleader on the squad, Urbas said everything was going swimmingly throughout the football season. Urbas fit in with the rest of the squad, and he even said that the Lakeview football team had stepped forward to support him, offering "to get his back" if anyone taunted him or gave him trouble.
Instead, where Urbas has suddenly found himself being discriminated against is precisely where he should have been most protected: In competitive cheerleading. According to Michigan ABC affiliate WXYZ, Urbas unintentionally got the Lakeview cheerleading squad disqualified from its first winter cheerleading competition … because he is a boy. Judges ruled that Lakeview couldn't compete in the event because they were fielding a boy.
"I cried," Urbas told WXYZ. "I felt like they were taking away my dream of being able to do it in college and getting scholarships."
According to the ABC affiliate, Lakeview's disqualification was based on a Michigan High School Athletic Association regulation that stipulates that girls can compete on boys teams in sports where a girls team is not offered, but boys are not allowed to compete on any girls squads in competitive sports where a male option is not offered. It's unclear why that rule wasn't known before the competition began, in which case Urbas would not have competed in the first place.
While that gender law clearly has prejudicial tendencies, the MHSAA issued a statement on Friday intimating that it's unlikely those rules will change anytime soon.
"Boys may not participate on a girls team in MHSAA sponsored postseason meets and tournaments," the statement read. "Schools have adopted this position to preserve participation opportunities for the historically underrepresented gender."
That ruling does little to ease Urbas' frustration and pain, but the teen's parents insist they will fight to change the rule.
"I absolutely think it's unfair," Brandon's mother Vicki Urbas. "I think it's discriminating against him."
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