LM superintendent explains decision
MANDATA - Although a girl did wrestle for Line Mountain several years ago, Superintendent David Campbell has said that was done in error and in violation of a school policy which was in existence at the time, a policy which he supports now in the face of a possible lawsuit from the father of a present Line Mountain female student who wants to wrestle.
Brian Beattie, father of sixth-grader Audrianna Beattie, who was on the Line Mountain youth wrestling team, questioned Line Mountain's school board last week about whether his daughter would be able to wrestle at the junior high level. He was told she would not be allowed to because the wrestling program is gender-specific, and told directors that policy was "discriminatory."
Beattie has said he might take his complaints to the state attorney general's Civil Rights division and to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Campbell said the district adopted Policy No. 123.1 in 2005, several years before he was superintendent.
The policy reads:
"The purpose of this policy is to address the following:
1. The physiological differences between male and female athletes.
2. The practice of the Line Mountain School District of maintaining interscholastic athletic teams for both males and femalies in all sports other than contact sports.
"Due to the fact that the physical size, speed and power of male athletes could create a competitive disadvantage and a hazard to the health and safety of female students, the Line Mountain School District prohibits male participation
on female varsity, junior varsity and junior high interscholastic athletic teams, except when any such team is specifically designated a co-ed team by the administration, with the formal approval of the School Board."
Muddying the water somewhat is the fact that in 2007, Lainey Martz, a Line Mountain junior at the time, not only wrestled in a match for the Eagles, but pinned an opponent at 103 pounds in a 35-34 win over Upper Dauphin which gave the Eagles the Tri-Valley League championship that year.
"I don't know what happened then," Campbell said. "I wasn't here yet. From what I understand, she was carried on the team for forfeits, but that night Upper Dauphin came up with someone to actually wrestle at that weight."
In any case, Campbell said it was a violation of already existing school policy.
Martz competed at the time with a number of Line Mountain girls who were competing in occasional girls tournaments.
Some girls have wrestled for other area school districts but Campbell said each case is up to the school district in question. He added that the concept of gender-specific teams has been upheld in federal court.
He e-mailed a copy of a 1993 decision by the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, in which a couple sued the Bethlehem School District to force the district to include their son on Bethlehem Liberty's girls field hockey team. In that case, the plaintiff won their case in district court. The school district appealed and the federal court found that, although field hockey was not considered "a contact sport," by its official rules, in reality it was, and reversed the lower court's decision.