Girl Not Allowed

September 5, 2017

Prince Avenue Christian School in Bogart, Ga., recently denied an appeal by Megan Garth, a soccer player, to compete as a kicker for the boys' football team.

According to AJC.com, a petition in support of Garth gathered 300 signatures, but failed to convince the school to let Garth play for the football team. Garth declined to comment, but her father, Branham Garth, expressed disagreement with the school.

“We’re obviously disappointed and we disagree, but we love Prince Avenue Christian and the people there, and we respect the decision and the deliberation,” he said.

Col. Seth Hathaway issued a statement saying the decision was necessary to uphold the school's religious principles and existing precedent, since it had previously refused to allow a male student to join the cheer squad. Hathaway also mentioned that since Prince Avenue does not accept federal funding, it is not bound by Title IX.

Wayne Brantley, football coach for Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Ga., said that while it was “probably not the politically correct answer,” there were safety and privacy issues that would preclude allowing girls to participate.

“One big reason for me is the possibility of severe injury for the young lady,” he said. “Also, there is no way she could dress or shower in the same locker room. If I were to really take a little time, I could probably write you a book on why it’s not a good idea. Our main goal at Landmark in football is to build strong men who are warriors. We have other programs designed to build women of character.”

Dr. Tracey Pritchard, head of Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, Ga., said that students can participate in sports teams of the opposite gender with the school's permission.

“We are always open to at least a ‘discussion’ and ‘evaluation’ of whether it is prudent and appropriate to allow mixed-gender participation for a particular sport at any given time,” Dr. Pritchard said in an e-mail. “We consider it on a case-by-case basis and within the guidelines of GHSA. Also, typically, participation consideration of a female on a male team is based on the needs of the team.”

Tim McFarlin, who coaches football for Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Ga., said that he would welcome any prospective female football player who made the team.

“You do whatever you have to do to accommodate the situation,” McFarlin said. “If a student athlete is willing to compete and meet the demands of football, I feel they deserve to be on the team. There would be no discrimination, and there would be no special treatment related to training, practice and games.”

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