LMSB 'disappointed' with ruling on wrestler
MANDATA - Line Mountain School Board members expressed their disappointment Tuesday night with a federal judge's ruling against them in a lawsuit involving seventh-grade student Audriana Beattie's attempts to wrestle on the district's all-male team.
In a prepared statement during a regular board meeting, Superintendent Dave Campbell said the district is reviewing U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann's order and is considering its options moving forward.
"The district believes Judge Brann gave due consideration to all the reasons the district advanced in support of its policy, but ultimately concluded the balance of interests weighed in the Beatties' favor," Campbell read. "The district is disappointed with Judge Brann's decision and believes its policy, which provides a classification based on gender, is substantially related to important government interests."
On Monday, Brann granted Audriana's parents, Brian and Angie, a preliminary injunction that prohibits the district from taking any action to prevent Audriana to participate in the program until the case is resolved, either through an out-of-court settlement or through trial.
The junior high wrestling program's last competition is scheduled for Feb. 8, Campbell said.
The judge had ruled Nov. 1 in what was termed a temporary injunction that Beattie was allowed to participate in the wrestling program as the suit proceeded, and the district is honoring that order.
The district has argued Beattie can't join the team because the wrestling program is gender-specific and allowing her to wrestle opens the district to liability. It says they are protecting Beattie and male athletes from potentially awkward situations and sexual contact during practices and matches, and the psychological scarring and inevitable injury and defeat of female wrestlers.
Her parents say the district is discriminating on the basis of gender in violation of equal protection and rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.
In his 29-page memorandum and order filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Brann, who heard testimony in November, sides with the Beatties in granting the preliminary injunction.
Brann's order is based on a hearing held Nov. 20 in Williamsport, at which seven witnesses, including Audriana Beattie, took the stand to testify for more than 5 1/2 hours.