A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction that will allow a Pennsylvania seventh-grader to continue wrestling on her middle school wrestling team. U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann ruled that the Line Mountain Middle School failed to justify its reasons for preventing girls from wrestling with boys.
At the day-long hearing and in subsequent briefs, the school failed to provide an example of where a girl was injured by a boy wrestler. Nor did the district present any testimony to support its concerns of emotion, psychological and moral risks of girls wrestling boys.
In its opinion, the court noted that there existed no equivalent opportunities for the student, Audrianna Beattie, to wrestle, dismissing the suggestion that she could wrestle at a club thirty-five minutes away. The court wrote “there are no available opportunities to participate in the sport that are the same frequency and quality as those accompanying the school district’s wrestling program.” The court concluded that “these missed opportunities would cause Audrianna to fall behind in her athletic development and prevent her from competing in her fullest potential in the future….”
In responding to Audrianna’s desire to wrestle, the school had offered to sponsor a girls wrestling team if there was sufficient interest. The court’s decision is in keeping with other Title IX decisions that enforce federal requirements that female athletes are to be presented the same opportunities as male athletes. A number of Connecticut high schools, for example, have female athletes that wrestle with male varsity and junior varsity squads.