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Young women’s safety wins with mixed gender sports decisions

(Metro Creative Services)

It took a female student with serious injuries to tip the scales on the side of sanity, but the Dighton-Rehoboth School Committee adopted a policy that says students and coaches do not have to play against teams with players of the opposite sex.

The decision stems from a shocking incident in November, when a male student on Swampscott High’s girls hockey team took a shot that hit a female player competing for her regional district in the face.

Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Bill Runey noted that the player was treated at a hospital for “significant facial and dental injuries.”

No parent wants to send their daughter off to a game and be told their child’s teeth were knocked out on the field after taking a shot to the face.

Why was there a male student playing field hockey on the girls team? Because nowadays it is heresy to recognize biological differences between men and women.

Men are allowed to participate on women’s teams in Massachusetts based on the state’s Equal Rights Amendment, according to the MIAA handbook.

What can go wrong?

The decision by the DR School Committee allows students and coaches to opt out of mixed-sex games, it does not force them to do so, nor may they be penalized if they refuse to play.

The decision is likely to be slammed by activist groups who argue that a male student who weighs more than a female student with a fit but light frame is her equal when it comes to strength and speed.

In a gender-blind world, young women’s rights to be safe when playing sports are too often pushed aside.

Activists and detractors are also likely to make a connection between this decision and the ability of transgender people to play against biological girls.

The banter over puberty, muscle mass, testosterone levels and more will rage on. Hopefully, the DR decision will push the cause of female student safety to the forefront of these debates.

Earlier this year, the Herald reported on a biologically male player who allegedly injured three girls during a basketball game.

The coach of the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell girls basketball team ended a game against Lynn’s KIPP Academy at halftime and forfeited the contest after his third player was injured.

“When the third was injured, the remaining five expressed concern for him to continue playing,” the Collegiate Charter School said in a statement. “The players feared getting injured and not being able to compete in the playoffs.”

Players should be worried about being outflanked and pushed out, not about being laid out on the floor by an opponent.

The question is: which has more weight — including the one who wants to play on a team, regardless of gender, or set up young female athletes for injuries?

After the DR decision, teams with mixed players can still play as such, but opposing teams have the refusal. We hope this decision opens the door for school sports discussions to give equal weight to the voices of young women and their right to walk off the field after a game and not be carried off on a stretcher.

Editorial cartoon by Gary Varvel (Creators Syndicate)

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