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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Girls Can Wrestle, Too, Family Tells School

WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. (CN) - A seventh-grader sued her school district for refusing to let her try out for the middle school wrestling team.

Brian and Angie Beattie sued Line Mountain School District in Federal Court on behalf of their daughter, A.B., who has wrestled competitively, against boys and girls, since she was in third grade.

The lawsuit describes how the Beatties went through channels to ask the school district to change its allegedly unconstitutional policy that prohibits girls from joining boys' athletic teams. The school claims its policy is based on "the physiological differences between male and female athletes."

According to the complaint, A.B. has been wrestling competitively since the third grade in Iowa schools. Iowa is a national center of competitive wrestling.

The family moved to Herndon, Pa., in 2012, and A.B. wrestled on the Line Mountain Elementary School team during the 2012-13 school year. But Line Mountain would not let her try out for the 7th grade team.

Brian Beattie attended several school board meetings to complain, and told the board school that its policy violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.

"Line Mountain School District Board of School Directors Board President Troy Laudenslager denied Mr. Beattie's request to provide his daughter with the opportunity to participate in the school-sponsored wrestling team based on potential objections by parents whose sons on the district's and competing schools' wrestling teams 'would be forced to be uncomfortable or forfeit' if a girl were allowed on the team,'" according to the lawsuit.

But a boy's hypothetical discomfort is no justification for violating the Constitution, the parents say.

They seek an injunction allowing A.B. to participate in tryouts, which take place in early November. They claim that "Line Mountain School District wrestlers have in the past and will in the future compete against female wrestlers, including a Halifax High School senior during the 2012-13 school year and an Upper Dauphin Middle School student during the upcoming 2013-14 school year."

The family says that "without being permitted to participate on the wrestling team, A.B. will have no school team on which she will be able to regularly practice and compete with wrestlers in the same weight classification and same skill level. Being denied the opportunity to wrestle on the Line Mountain team will be a personal loss to participate in a sport about which A.B. is passionate and in which she is driven to participate."

The Beatties are represented by Abbe Fletman with Flaster Greenberg, in Philadelphia.

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