Two New Jersey Catholic school students were expelled after their family sued the school for not allowing their 13-year-old daughter play on the boys’ basketball team.
Scott Phillips found out in October that his daughters’ school, St. Teresa’s in Kenilworth, New Jersey, was shutting down the girls’ basketball team.
“When we heard that there was no varsity team, which covers 7th and 8th grade, my wife simply said, ‘Let’s just let her play with the 7th and 8th grade boys. Let’s move her over,’ ” Phillips tells PEOPLE.
But when he approached the school’s athletic director, the idea was met with resistance.
“Instead of saying, ‘Let’s talk about it,’ or ‘Let’s look into it,’ it was a resounding ‘No’ from the athletic director,” says Phillips, 63, a retired police officer. “It was a simple request: just move a girl over to the boys’ league. It’s a no tryout league. There was nothing about if she can keep up with the boys. And as it happens, Sydney is a very, very good athlete, and her moving to the boys’ team would only help them.”
Scott asked if the school had a rule in writing stating that girls were not allowed to play on boys’ teams, which he says they couldn’t produce.
“They said that boys only play with boys, and girls only play with girls,” he says.
Scott and his wife Theresa then went up the chain of command, and set up a meeting with the Newark Archdiocese, who runs the school. They were immediately told that Sydney wouldn’t be allowed to play with the boys, prompting the Phillips to take legal action. …
When I found out this was a Catholic school part of a Catholic Diocese, I was completely dismayed. This wasn’t a transgender. This was simply a girl who wanted to play basketball, and (apparently) there were not enough other girls from the school for her to play with. If there was no real league rule against it, the school should have, in my opinion, highly encourage a girl’s team, or allow her to join the boy’s team.
I’m completely dismayed that this was a Catholic school. Makes me, frankly, disappointed, in my fellow northern-stated Catholics.
I’m curious about your thoughts, as well. Is it wrong for a girl to be allowed to play with boys in the (non-contact) sport of basketball in a Catholic School? Was it right or wrong for the school to expel the student?