WINAMAC, Ind. (WLFI) - When the Eastern Pulaski school corporation told a 7th grade girl she couldn't play football because of her gender, her family responded with a lawsuit.
The suit was filed Wednesday in the U.S.. District Court in South Bend, our sister station WLFI reports.
In his nearly 17 years as a school superintendent, Benton Community Schools Superintendent Destin Haas has seen it all when it comes to sports.
"We've had girls play football, we've had them play wrestling, and we've never had an issue with it," said Haas.
On Wednesday, a 7th grader and her family filed a lawsuit against the Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation, for something they did have an issue with. She wasn't allowed to play football with the boys.
According to the lawsuit, the 12-year-old girl was told by her principal and athletic director at Winamac Middle School, that she should consider participating in volleyball or cross country instead.
"For a lot of people, this strikes up a lot of anxiety because of the fear that girls are going to get hurt playing sports," said Cheryl Cooky, an Associate Professor in Women's Gender Studies at Purdue.
Cooky said despite the passage of Title IX 40 years ago, contact sports are often seen as off limits to women.
Yet, she said that shouldn't be the case.
"If we're going to bring up the issue around concerns of girls getting hurt, we should also ask that question of our boys, and is this a safe sport for our boys to play," said Cooky.
Haas agrees. Benton Community Schools and Eastern Pulaski are relatively the same in class size, and Haas said he lets his athletes know what they're getting into when they try out for the team.
"When we've had girls participate either in football and or wrestling," said Haas. "We tell our student athletes in those years, you know, you treat them just like you would anyone else. They're just another player, they're just another wrestler."
While Haas said they allow students to participate in any sport they'd like, he also said it's a decision that should be left up to individual school districts, and more importantly, the community.
"When you're forming policies, situations, or even guidelines, you look at what your community would be for, or be against," said Haas. "I don't think anybody has ever complained about that in our community, about girls or boys playing in the same sport, or being involved in different activities."
News 18 spoke with Eastern Pulaski School Superintendent Dan Foster on Friday. He tells us he doesn't feel comfortable commenting on the case just yet, because he hasn't received a copy of the lawsuit.
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