A 12-year-old girl in Lancaster, Ohio will get to take to the football field along with male classmates, despite her middle school's "boys only" policy, reports ThinkProgress.
Michaela Jenkins teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge the Fairfield County School District's ban on female participation in contact sports, which the district initially defended, without providing justification for the ban. On Tuesday, the district announced that Jenkins will be allowed to join the football team this fall.
But lest anyone think the policy change is indicative of a genuine interest in gender equity, the school district's statement makes clear that it's all about the money.
"We have no intent of competing with the deep pockets of the ACLU in any litigation situation in order to secure a favorable judgment," said the district in a statement, according to UPI. "Therefore, we will allow female participation in contact sports."
That doesn't engender a great deal of confidence that the school will actually provide equal opportunity and protection once Jenkins is on the team as offered to her male teammates, but Jenkins' family affirmed that she's ready to take the field, after practicing, lifting weights, and playing on several football teams throughout the city.
"Some people have different goals and dreams they want to follow," Jenkins told a local news station, according to ThinkProgress. "And if they want to play a sport, [they] should be able to play a sport no matter what gender you are."
ThinkProgress notes that an estimated 1,500 female students play on male-dominated high school football teams around the country, a 17% increase over the past four years.