Twelve year old Madison Baxter (photo right) has been playing football since she was in the second grade. As a sixth grader at Strong Rock Christian Academy in Locust Grove, Georgia, Maddy was an accepted member of the Strong Rock Patriots. She was part of the team! If you have ever played team sports you know the valuable life lessons that experience teaches. Self-esteem. Self-image. Loyalty. Dependability. Commitment. Acceptance. Friendship. Sportsmanship. Being gracious in victory and in defeat. Being part of something bigger than oneself. Those are the reasons we encourage children to play sports, not because we think they are going to need ball handling skills as an adult.
With the Patriots, Maddy had all those positive influences.
Now the school has notified Madison that she is not welcome to try out for the seventh grade team. Self-esteem? Self-image? Loyalty? Dependability? Commitment? Acceptance? Friendship? Sportsmanship? Being gracious in victory and in defeat? Being part of something bigger than oneself? Sorry Maddy. Those are lessons reserved for the boys of Strong Rock Christian Academy. Why? Because the man in charge of her school has decided Maddy is getting to that age when boys will begin to “lust after her”.
The patriarchal school administrator, Patrick Stuart, (not to be confused with the good Patrick Stewart, who has always treated his female crew members as equals,) told Cassy Blythe, Madison’s mother, that boys were going to start having lustful thoughts about Madison, and if she were to continue on the team, she might overhear some “locker room talk”. “Men and women are created equal but different.” Stuart (photo left) told Ms. Blythe. He said he’s been praying about Maddy and came to the conclusion that he was making the right decision for the school.
I wonder if he ever prayed on what was right decision for his students?
If Mr. Stuart feels his boy have a lust problem, why isn’t Strong Rock removing the offending BOYS from the team, to teach them the valuable lesson of how men are supposed to behave toward women? If the problem is BOYS with potty mouths; why isn’t Strong Rock teaching its young Christian BOYS to speak with respect, instead of removing the girl from earshot? Why is the girl deprived of an opportunity to play a sport she loves, because Mr. Stuart fears the boys around her might misbehave?
Think about this. Patrick “Christian Academy” Stuart has succumbed to the very same logic the Muslin mullahs of Afghanistan use when they put burquas on women, so as not to arouse lecherous men. Both the Muslims and the Christians have the same strategy: limit the women to make men more virtuous. It never occurs to chastity police to beat the men with the hard-ons and not the women who showed a hank of hair. And it never occurred to the administrator of Strong Rock to teach the school’s young men respect, instead of taking away an educational experience from a young woman.
Madison is not the first young athlete whose football career has been ended by an old man’s fear of a young man’s libido. Eleven year old Caroline Pla (photo right) received an invitation to the Ellen Show last March, after she was told she could no longer play football in the Catholic Youth League because there might be “inappropriate touching.” That’s an interesting observation coming from such a gay-phobic organization as the Catholics. If a girl can’t play football because there would be inappropriate touching, aren’t football teams made up of all boys doing the very same touching?
A national campaign pressured Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, (photo left) to allow Caroline Pla back on the team she’s been a part of since 2011. But when he announced his decision, the Archbishop said he was taking it upon himself to decide, on a season to season basis, whether Caroline Pla will be allowed to continue to play football in the Catholic Youth League. One has to wonder how he will make that call? Does young Caroline report to the Archbishop each fall to determine if she has started menstruating and a quick check to see if her breasts have begun to bud? Just how does a 70-year-old man judge whether a 12-year-old girl is ripening beyond football eligibility?
If these young ladies were in a public school, they’d have a shot at justice, but in America these days, a white man can put the word “Christian” in front of any behavior from boorish to criminal, and suddenly he’s untouchable. No one knows this as well as the LGBT community, who are regularly faced with “carve outs” in non-discrimination laws. Say you’re Christian, it’s ok to refuse to marry a gay couple. Say you’re Christian, it’s ok to bully LGBTQ students. I hear the Christian bakers are even demanding the right to withhold cakes on the basis of the sexual preference of the pastry eater. But I swear, women have it worse. Think about this. When white Christian men want to insult a gay man; they call him a girl.
Madison Baxter has started a Facebook page, Let Her Play, in support of young female athletes. She hopes public pressure will shame Mr. Stuart into reconsidering his decision. Caroline Pla is awaiting Archbishop Chaput’s yearly puberty evaluation, to discover if she will be granted another season on the gridiron. Hard to believe that in twenty-first century America, two young girls each have to beg a powerful man for permission to run around with a ball. That’s all they’re asking to do, play a game.
As young as she is, Madison Baxter has been drafted into the War On Women, and she is fighting back. You can offer Maddy your encouragement by visiting her “Let Her Play” Facebook page, and hitting the “Like” icon. Let her know we’re on her side. Let her know we admire her spirit. Let’s keep Madison Baxter, and her battle in the War On Women, On Our Radar.
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.