These Girls Think They Should Be Able To Play Football. Their Parents Agree, And Have Filed A Lawsuit On Their Behalf.

"[The] districts fail to provide equal treatment and benefits to girls as they do boys."

Women and girls don't only love the sport of football, some want the equal opportunity to play it, too.

Such is the case for girls in Utah, whose parents filed a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court against three school districts because of the lack of girls' football teams.

While the parents and their daughters are indicating that there's a big interest in forming all-female football teams, the schools are saying the opposite, stating that the lack of having those programs is not discriminatory but rather a response to a lack of interest.

The lawsuit against the Jordan, Canyons and Granite school districts states, "[The] districts fail to provide equal treatment and benefits to girls as they do boys because [the] districts give boys the right and opportunity to use the high school football fields, stadiums, facilities, but do not provide girls the same treatment and benefits."

However, Ben Horsley, spokesman for the Granite School District, said that just isn't so.

"We work closely with the High School Activities Association to identify athletic opportunities for both genders," he said. "If there were sufficient interest in a female-only football league and it was sanctioned by the High School Activities Association, we would have no issue in providing such a program. But that is not currently the case."

He went on to say that "less than a handful" of high school girls district-wide choose to participate in football with the boys' teams, so they view it as a lack of interest and therefore don't see a need in creating a girls' team.

But the parents are fighting back and detail in the lawsuit that the interest is there in a big way, and they have proof. After the Utah Girls Tackle Football League was created by one of the high school students in 2015, 50 girls registered to join within a week of its formation. In 2016 that number grew to 100 girls, and doubled this year after.

Similar interest was seen at Herriman High School in the Jordan School District after it approved a girls' football club in early 2017 that drew the attention of 50 girls.   

To further that interest, the lawsuit is requesting the official formation of a girls' team at Herriman, the other high schools in the district, and the high schools in the Canyons and Granite districts.

Forming official teams isn't just about equality but the other things that come from playing outside of recreational teams like the support of cheerleaders, a band, and the possibility of earning accolades considered by colleges. The girls could also earn school credit for physical education classes, press coverage of their achievements on the field, and opportunities to compete at the regional and state level.

The NFL has seen changes in recent years to be more inclusive of women, like in 2015 when the league hired its first full-time female referee, Sarah Thomas, and the Arizona Cardinals hired the first female coach, Jen Welter, assigned as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason.   

In 2017, at the collegiate level, Becca Longo became the first woman to receive a college football scholarship. While she's not the first woman to play college football, it's reported that she's the first to receive a scholarship to do so after signing a letter of intent to play football at Adams State University, an NCAA Division II school in Alamosa, Colo.

She told ESPN at the time, "I'm ready to compete."

(H/T: Salt Lake Tribune)

Cover image: Selenit / Shutterstock.com



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