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A 12-year-old girl has been kicked off her Christian school’s football team over the fear she might arouse “impure thoughts” among her male teammates.
Maddy Paige of Jackson, Ga., was the starting left defensive tackle as a sixth-grader for Strong Rock Christian School, a private academy in Locust Grove, Ga.
But she was recently informed by the private school’s CEO that she was not welcome to play as a seventh-grader.
“It’s like taking my dream and throwing it in the trash,” Maddy told WXIA-TV in Atlanta.
As far as a reason, Maddy’s mother, Cassy Blythe, told the station: “In the meeting with the CEO of the school [Patrick Stuart], 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 said Stuart also cited the Bible in making his decision.
"They couldn't find an exact quote of why she shouldn't play," she told Fox5 in Atlanta. "He said, 'The best I can up with is that men and women are created equal but different.' And that is all he could say."
Phil Roberts, the athletic director at Strong Rock, e-mailed news agencies a statement saying, "Our official policy is that middle school girls play girl sports and middle school boys play boy sports."
Blythe said she feels the school's reasoning is absurd, telling WXIA: "I think it's absolutely ridiculous. It shouldn't be held against Maddy that the boys can't control their urges and their thoughts. They need to learn how to handle what's going on with them just like she needs to learn how to handle what's going on with her growing up, and I think it could be a good learning experience for both the boys and any girls that decide to play at the school."
When asked about the possibility of lusting in non-sports activity, such as walking down the school halls, Blythe says the school had no explanation.
Maddy noted, "I'm still taking it all in, knowing that I'm not gonna be able to have as much fun as I did last year. But really, it just really, really hurts, because knowing all that fun is gonna be taken away just because I'm a girl."
Mom and daughter are not giving up the fight to keep Maddy on the gridiron.
They've launched a Facebook page titled "Let Her Play," a campaign for female athletes that has received more than 8,400 likes at this point.
It features numerous comments supporting Maddy and blasting the school, including:
- "Why are girls always the blame for boys 'impure thoughts'? Boys need to be taught from a very young age to have respect for girls. Period." (Shannon Hudson)
- "The Christian School CEO Patrick Stuart used the Bible to justify his move, Stuart said that men and women are created equal but different, and he said he prayed about it and it was the wrong thing to allow Maddy on the team. He was also worried that Maddy might inspire 'lustful thoughts' in the boys on the team. What the hell was he trying to imply? This Stuart is an A--, he is living in the dark ages! And why would he be worried about lustful thoughts while a little girl is playing football?" (Pat Harbour)
- "Can anyone tell me why a man can be on the cheerleading but a woman can't play football?! Please tell me." (Glen Perry)
- "This is a new time. Most females can do just as well as the guys. If she makes the cut more power to her. I think she should be able to show the guys she can put them on their cans and do the job. Don't give up your dream or goal!" (Kenny Smith)