California High School Football Team Forfeits Game Against Team with Two Female Players

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A high school football team in California has elected to forfeit rather than play another team with a female player on the roster. This is despite the fact that the team forfeiting the game recently settled a Title IX lawsuit after forfeiting another game against a team with a female player.

Valley Christian Academy in Santa Maria, California, forfeited its Sept. 30 game against Coast Union in Cambria, California. This is not the first time Valley Christian has forfeited games for this reason. In fact, it’s the fourth year in a row they’ve elected to forfeit a game because the opposing team had a female player, and it’s the second time they’ve forfeited against Coast Union.

Valley Christian settled a suit brought against them in 2021 by a female football player from  Cuyama Valley High School in California. The suit was settled in August for $20,000. However, the position of Valley Christian and their Superintendent Joel Mikkelson, who is also the Pastor at First Baptist Church, is that TitleIX doesn’t apply in this particular situation because football is a contact sport.

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“Title IX is very clear that contact sports are exempt from Title IX,” Mikkelson told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s the language — contact sports are exempt from Title IX. It is an unfortunate tragedy that that is not understood by most people.”

The specific language in Title IX pertaining to contact sports says, in part:

(a) General. No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, be treated differently from another person or otherwise be discriminated against in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics offered by a recipient, and no recipient shall provide any such athletics separately on such basis.

(b) Separate teams. Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, a recipient may operate or sponsor separate teams for members of each sex where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport. However, where a recipient operates or sponsors a team in a particular sport for members of one sex but operates or sponsors no such team for members of the other sex, and athletic opportunities for members of that sex have previously been limited, members of the excluded sex must be allowed to try-out for the team offered unless the sport involved is a contact sport. For the purposes of this part, contact sports include boxing, wrestling, rugby, ice hockey, football, basketball and other sports the purpose or major activity of which involves bodily contact.

The lawsuit against Valley Christian accused the school of denying the female player her “athletic opportunities” by clinging to “antiquated, misogynistic ideals.”

“This action arises out of the abhorrent, intentional, and gross discrimination against plaintiff, a female student-athlete enrolled at Cuyama Valley High School (Cuyama Valley), by defendants’ antiquated, misogynistic ideals and policies through which defendants sought to minimize plaintiff’s athletic ability and deprive her of athletic opportunities strictly due to her gender.”

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Mikkelson sees it differently.

“In all fairness, we want to treat women with gentleness and respect,” the pastor explained. “And so we want our young men to apply that to the football field. And we believe football is a violent game, and accordingly, we want them to operate within the rules of football and hit people well. And we don’t want them to do that to a young lady.”

The judge in the case didn’t entirely agree with either side. The civil rights allegations and personal claims against Mikkelson were denied. However, the judge declined to dismiss the portion of the lawsuit pertaining to Title IX or the Education Code, Noozhawk reports.


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