Kit Steinkellner
January 15, 2015 2:27 pm

Here’s the deal about kids and sports: a child’s gender should NOT affect whether or not they are allowed to play the game. Full stop. That’s it. No ifs, ands, or buts.

If the kid wants to play, if they kid has the ability to play, then the kid should play! That kinda seems like a no-brainer, right?

Well someone needs to send that message to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. One of their students, Caroline Pla, has been playing football in their league since the age of 5. Not just playing, excelling. But two years ago the league wanted to ban her from continuing to play, just because she was a girl. A petition was started, Caroline became a symbol of hope and strength for girls who love football, and she even went on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

In the end, she got 110,000 signatures on the petition and was allowed to play tackle football. Victory.

That really should have been the end of this inspirational sports story. Unfortunately, that happy ending was a fake-out, and now the Plas are once again dealing with gender discrimination. 

Just recently, Caroline’s mother took to after the organization once again decided to change their rules. She writes: “They made changes to their handbook to prevent girls participation in football and other contact sports after 2014. But as long as they receive federal funds to adhere to Title IX rules, they won’t be able to just rewrite a handbook to get away with gender discrimination. It is illegal to do so.”

It’s impossible to understand why the Archdiocese would take a huge step forward only to then change their mind and take two giant steps back. The diocese claimed they change this rule to emphasize “dignity, integrity, fairness and moral strength” amongst players. That seems a lot like 1984 doublespeak: you know, where language is deliberately disguised and distorted to reverse the meaning of words. There is NOTHING dignified or fair about preventing a child from playing a sport based upon gender. Where is the integrity or moral strength there?

Caroline Pla, her family, and her supporters are not getting to let this pass without a fight. Even though Caroline has aged out of the league and is no longer eligible to play with the Catholic Youth Organization, the Plas want to fight the good fight for all the girls all over the country who want (and DESERVE) to play.

Right now the Plas have a petition up on and they’re about 5,000 signatures away from their goal. If you believe that what’s happening is wrong and unfair, you should absolutely be one of those remaining 5k signatures. Let’s make sure that gender discrimination doesn’t prevent great female athletes from playing. Are we really going to tell little girls that sports are for boys?

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