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Young women’s safety scores a win with mixed-gender sports decision

(Metro Creative Services)

It took a female student suffering serious injuries to tip the scale on the side of common sense, but the Dighton-Rehoboth School Committee passed a policy that says students and coaches don’t have to play against teams with players of the opposite sex.

The decision stems from a jarring incident in November, when a male student on the Swampscott High girls’ field hockey team took a shot that hit the face of a female player competing for his regional district.

Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Bill Runey noted that the player was treated at a hospital for “significant facial and dental injuries.”

No parent wants to send their daughter off to a game and get the news that their child’s teeth were knocked out on the field after taking a shot to the face.

Why was there a male student playing field hockey on the girls’ team? Because these days, acknowledging biological differences between men and women is heresy.

Males are allowed to participate on female teams in Massachusetts based on the state’s Equal Rights Amendment, according to the MIAA handbook.

What could go wrong?

The decision by the D-R School Committee allows students and coaches to opt out of mixed-gender games, it doesn’t force them to, nor do they face penalties if they refuse to play.

The decision is likely to be pilloried by activist groups asserting that a male student outweighing and out-muscling a female student of a fit but slight frame is her equal when it comes to strength and speed.

In a gender-blind world, the rights of young women to be safe when they play sports is too often shunted to the sidelines.

Activists and detractors are also likely to make a link between this decision and the ability for transgender students to play against biological girls.

The shouting match over puberty, muscle mass, testosterone levels and more will rage on. Hopefully, the D-R decision will propel the cause of female students’ safety to the forefront of these debates.

Earlier this year, the Herald reported on a biological male player reportedly injuring three girls during a basketball game.

The coach for the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell girls basketball team ended a game against Lynn’s KIPP Academy at halftime, forfeiting the contest after his third player got hurt.

“Once the third was injured, the remaining five expressed concern to him about continuing to play,” Collegiate Charter School said in a statement. “The players feared getting injured and not being able to compete in the playoffs.”

Players should be concerned about getting outflanked and out-shot, not about being laid out on the parquet by an opposing player.

The question is: which has more weight — including whoever wants to play on a team, regardless of gender, or setting up young female athletes for injuries?

After the D-R decision, teams with mixed-gender players can still play as such, but the opposing teams have the right of refusal. We hope this decision opens the door for school sports discussions to give equal importance to the voices of young women, and their right to walk off the field after a game, and not be carried off on a stretcher.

 

Editorial cartoon by Gary Varvel (Creators Syndicate)

 

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