Maddy Blythe is a middle school student who, like many kids her age, plays sports for her school's athletics program. The 12-year-old was a starting player who recorded several excellent excellent plays for her team, even receiving standing ovations on occasion. Her dream was to go to college to play sports, and she was paving a pretty good path for herself.
That is, until Strong Rock Christian School in Locust Grove, Georgia stepped in and kicked her off their football team.
According to school CEO Patrick Stuart, "men and women are created equal but different," and after praying about it, he decided "it was the wrong thing to do to allow [Blythe] on the team."
"Just for being a girl," Blythe added. "Which I think is completely outrageous."
Maddy's mother, Cassy Blythe, said her daughter wanted to play football in high school and perhaps even in college. She was shocked by the news that Stuart had booted her daughter off the football team.
"I don't know where it came from," she said. "All we had received from the coaches was encouragement. 'Maddy's wonderful. We want her to keep playing. She has found her niche.'"
Despite her success on the team, recording five sacks as the team's first-string defensive tackle, Strong Rock decided to bring up an official rule they hadn't used with the younger Blythe immediately after she joined the team: that "Middle school girls play girl sports and middle school boys play boy sports," according to Phil Roberts, the school's athletic director.
Additionally, Stuart claimed that the boys on the team might have "lustful thoughts" about her and that they could use "rough language" in the locker room.
But the older Blythe, a former police officer, disagrees.
"My girl can handle herself," she said. "I've seen girls in the military. I've seen fellow female police officers who went out there and they busted tail and they were just ... as good ... if not better in some aspects."
Cassy Blythe started a Facebook page called "Let Her Play" — it has almost 3,000 likes — where allies of her daughter's cause can leave supportive messages. The page reads, "We stand behind all female athletes who are told no. Join our fight for equality. Our daughters should not have limitations. Let them soar!"
According to Title IX — the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination and inequality in schools — Strong Rock, as a private school, would not have to comply with its rules unless it receives any kind of federal funding. If it does receive this funding, Blythe and her mother could take legal action.
Despite the fact that the school could be legally justified in their decision regarding Maddy Blythe, this doesn't make it right or okay in the eyes of equality. To make a life-changing decision for someone else based on one's personal prayer is one thing, but to supplement it with the archaic rule that "girls play girl sports and boys play boy sports" is absolutely ridiculous. Hopefully, the support Maddy gains will drive the school to reverse its decision.