A Massachusetts student athlete had two teeth knocked out Thursday when she was struck in the face by a male opponent during a high school coed field hockey game, leading to the questioning of the wisdom of mixing the sexes in certain coed school sports.
The Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment has been around since the 1970s and allows boys to play on girls’ teams and girls to play on boys’ teams if a sport doesn’t offer separate male and female teams.
“Why is everyone so comfortable with harming girls in the name of social justice and equality? Enough is enough,” tweeted women’s sports advocate Paula Scanlan, who swam on the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swimming team alongside “transgender” athlete Lia Thomas.
“The shrieks and screams of fear and pain that projected from her after being hit filled the stadium,” the captain of Dighton-Rehoboth’s field hockey team, Kelsey Bain, wrote in a letter to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association in response to her teammate’s injuries.
The girl faced “significant facial and dental injuries” and was later hospitalized, according to Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Bill Runey.
“While I understand that the MIAA [Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association] has guidelines in place for coed participation under section 43 of their handbook, this incident dramatically magnifies the concerns of many about player safety,” Runey told local TV station WCVB. “Seeing the horror in the eyes of our players and coaches upon greeting their bus last night is evidence to me that there has to be a renewed approach by the MIAA to protect the safety of our athletes.”
“Following the injury,” wrote Bain, “my teammates were sobbing not only in fear for their teammate but also in fear that they had to go back out onto the field and continue a game, playing against a male athlete who hospitalized one of our own.”
Bain continued her letter with a long list of physical advantages males have, including “larger lungs … denser skeletal structures … produce more force … greater muscle mass.”
The athletic association gave a statement on its view on the incident, highlighting the state’s protection of students based on gender identity.
“Massachusetts General Law was originally enacted to protect students from discrimination based on sex and later expanded to protect students based on gender identification,” athletic association officials wrote. “As a result of this law … athletic opportunities must be afforded to students in accordance with their identified gender, not necessarily their birth-assigned gender.”
The Dighton-Rehoboth team captain criticized the association for “scapegoating” criticism around the topic by hiding behind the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment and wrote, “The MIAA needs to do better.”
A variety of women’s sports advocates made a statement supporting the injured female athlete and Bain.
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