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Utah high schoolers are suing to get all-girls football teams

Utah high schoolers are suing to get all-girls football teams in their school districts


Six young women and their parents filed a lawsuit in federal court against Jordan, Granite and Canyons school districts in Utah, saying it's time for all-girls football teams at their schools.

The lawsuit asks that districts give the same opportunity to girls as boys and that if schools create the opportunity for girls football, girls will play. The girls currently play on the Utah Girls Tackle Football League and say it's the only opportunity to play the sport they love on an all-girls team.

"I just love the sport so much. I can't imagine my life without it."
14-year-old Lauren Dixon, who will be a ninth-grader at Copper Hills

Madelyn Calchera, 16, who will be a senior at Hillcrest High School, said not playing on a school team means you can't enjoy playing with your schoolmates. They also miss out on playing in an environment where the pep band and cheerleaders create enthusiasm at their games. Calchera said she'd like to see girls have the opportunity of earning a football scholarship for college.

"It's not OK for boys to have more opportunities than girls . We may be different, but still the same species."
Madelyn Calchera

Both Lauren and Madelyn have played on the boy's teams at their respective schools. Both enjoyed it but felt they didn't enjoy the camaraderie on the boys teams that they enjoyed on their all-girls rec league teams.

Jason Dixon said he didn't mind his daughter playing with the boys until the boys started maturing and getting a lot bigger and stronger. "I don't want to see her get hurt but I don't want to restrict her from playing a sport she loves," he said. Dixon said that the rec league has 200 players shows there are girls who would play school football if given the opportunity.

Loren Washburn, one of the attorneys who filed the suit for the girls, said school districts cannot assume there is not enough interest in all-girls' football. In 2008, he said Utah schools formed all-girls golf teams. Participation went from a few dozen girls who played with the boys to over 1,000 girls who play currently.

Jordan School District spokesperson Sandra Riesgraf said the district does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Jeff Haney, Spokesperson for Canyons School District said "Canyons District will continue to review and discuss the issues included in the complaint. Our high schools currently support student athletes, both girls and boys, as they compete in Utah High School Activity Association-sanctioned activities. We believe there are substantial opportunities for all our student athletes to excel on the playing field while also becoming college- and career-ready in the classroom."

Ben Horsley, spokesperson for Granite School District said "The premise of the lawsuit seems off base. Title IX doesn’t dictate WHAT to offer, but simply works to ensure it is equitable. That is our mission in coordination with UHSAA. We already have a handful of female students participating in football across the district and if interest were to grow, we are certainly open to hosting officially sanctioned teams as appropriate in the future. However, our own internal surveys and current participation levels indicate that we are not even close to that type of interest at this point in time, no matter what this lawsuit presupposes."

KUTV in Salt Lake City, Utah contributed to this story.

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