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Ohio school allows girl to play on football team

BALTIMORE, Ohio (AP) — A school district that denied a 12-year-old seventh-grader a spot on the football team because she is a girl reversed its decision because it didn’t want to spend tax money fighting the issue, the school’s superintendent said.

The school announced Friday that Makhaela Jenkins will be allowed on the team after all.

She earlier had been told she couldn’t play because the Liberty Union-Thurston district southeast of Columbus doesn’t allow girls to participate in games and contact drills.

Superintendent Paul Mathews said he still believes the longstanding policy doesn’t violate any gender-related regulations, because the district offered girls other, non-contact athletic options. He had said it was the district’s choice to set which school sports are available to girls.

He also maintained that the policy did not violate the federal law that bans gender discrimination in federally funded school programs, including sports.

But in a statement released Friday, Mathews said that the district didn’t want to spend tax money fighting the American Civil Liberties Union over the policy.

“It sets me apart from everybody else, and it lets other people know it’s OK to be different and you don’t have to follow what everybody else does,” Jenkins said.