7th Grade Girl Expelled from School After Suing to Play on the Boys’ Basketball Team



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?

Forgot the link: msn.com/en-us/news/us/7th-grade-girl-expelled-from-school-after-suing-to-play-on-the-boys%E2%80%99-basketball-team/ar-AAmBgLk?OCID=ansmsnnews11


Our Catholic School in Illinois, we are such a small school that some of our sports teams are combined… the girls and boys play on the same basketball team K- 8th. Not sure why this would be a problem there?


Maybe because it it already the rule there and the school did not want it to change to include girls in the boys basketball team. I feel for the girl though.


I feel for the young girl, but not knowing the social climate, the school’s facilities, and other factors that affect the intermingling of the sexes at ages where puberty is a factor, the school might have a valid point. With the sex scandals of the recent past, I think any Catholic organization dealing with children is a bit skittish at this point.

Disappointing the way you were treated but unfortunately, though the Church portrays itself a welcoming and loving, the reality is that for bureaucrats in the diocesan offices, it is often not a modus operandi.

One other thought. I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on lawyers. Don’t know how much authority the civil courts have over the policies of a private, sectarian school.

Good luck.


One of the challenges at that age is that the young lady would need to use the girls locker room for both home and away games as well as for practice. This can cause issues if the district policies or school insurance requires an adult to be in the locker room or at least able to enter it. It would then require the basketball team to have a female coach in order to accommodate this young lady to play on the boys team.

I don’t know if that is the case here, but let’s not be so quick to treat it like this great injustice. There were several sports in my large highschool that were male or female only. Noone complained and they certainly didn’t sue the school to get their way. It seems that the parents should have spent time to see why the girls team was being dropped and worked to understand those issues before trying to force a change. Perhaps they could have looked at a non school league also.

I simply cannot abide the litigious society we have now that says sue to get your way rater than looking at how to build up things through your own efforts.


Yeah that’s weird… I can’t see why she wouldn’t be allowed train with the boys. Expelling her was petty; she’s better off in a different school. I hope her parents got their fees back.


No doubt much info is missing, but expelling the girls seemed a rediculous act, sure to be undone by the court at the first opportunity.

There is little doubt that relevant and reasonable considerations will often lead to unisex sports teams. Whether such factors arise here, we don’t know.

While the rules of basketball say “non-contact”, contact occurs, sometimes at speed. This may be a factor - or certainly becomes a factor as the kids get bigger and the weight differential increases between boys and girls.


I believe thatshe was expelled onlyafter the parents sued the school. The*lawsuit itself was a petty act.


Probably not, as it is a Catholic school.The courts rightly stay out of whoa religious school is forced to admit or retain.


It seems the reason that she was expelled was because her parents sued the school. The school probably figured that it wasn’t worth dealing with the family’s nonsense and told her to go somewhere else. It’s understandable that she wanted to play basketball, but taking this issue to the courts was uncalled for over an issue like this.


Even if the lawsuit was a petty act, (and I don’t know enough to address that point), why was the expulsion not also petty? What is accomplished by expelling her other than retaliation?


WHY won’t they just let her play?!???!!!

I mean, she has to try out and be good enough like the others do (I assume)…but if she’s at the same level as the others, for heaven’s sakes…let the girl play. If she wants to play so badly, I imagine she is a good player.

All the schools have both girls and boy’s change rooms she can use, or she can change in the girl’s restroom or the teacher’s bathroom. There are many options.

I don’t see in the article what reasoning the school gives for not allowing her to play. Did I miss it?



I think that this is a little ridiculous. They should have just let her play.


This is well said. There may have been many factors that played into this decision rather than just the lawsuit. Perhaps a public school with an active girls team would be a better fit for this family. A non school league certainly a great idea.

Hope things work out for this family and the school.



Just a few thoughts…Male and Female he created them…something in the Moral teachings about Scandal…pubescent boys and an occasion to commit sin…common sense…respecting authority (i.e. no means no)…really all i see in this article is entitled parents raising an entitled kid to throw a hissy when they didn’t get their way. Just my $.02 though.


I believe they are already reinstated.


I would support the school’s decision to run either mixed sex basketball teams or to run separate male and female basketball teams.

I wouldn’t think the change rooms would present much of a problem.

I don’t support the family suing however to force mixed sex basketball teams on the school.


When they sued the school, there is no way that the school can put up with them anymore.

Come and study there and follow the rule but if they are forcing the school to change it, obviously they cannot be expected to be in anymore.



Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Working in customer service I am often faced with customers (and these parents are just that) who think that they should be given exactly what they want. That isn’t how the world works. A company has the right to say “no, we’re not doing what you want”. So long as they weren’t breaking the law I see nothing wrong with what the school did.


*First, let me say that standard operating procedure here, is to invite any complaining parent to find another school for their child, no matter if it’s a sports issue, a curriculum issue, or a teacher issue. The superintendent simply will not listen. Then the principal gets chewed out for having it go all the way up the ladder. Then it REALLY becomes the student’s problem as then, the teacher or coach gets chewed. But I digress. *

Its Catholic school. While athletics are an important part of development, you can shop for sports anywhere. City league, community programs, neighborhood programs. Many Catholic schools operate with parent coaches because they simply can’t financially offer a a big city quality program. It’s mean to be FUN. It’s not meant as a step to the Final Four.

The people in the pews who tithe…don’t want to pay for lawsuits. Where does one think the $$$ for these things come from? From your giving. The more spent on lawsuits, the less spent on ministry and building future parishes. Think about that.

This is a missed opportunity to teach the child a lesson in how life goes. Sometimes things just don’t work out per our preference. All the other girls were disappointed I’m sure. But they didn’t try to force anyone’s hand. They sought other options, of which there are many.

But the school’s job is not to offer sports first.
Teaching Catholicism is the first line item on any Catholic school curriculum.
No one has said if they are doing that adequately.

That is the real question. If that’s a problem, then one might be better off seeking other educational opportunities. But suing the Diocese? Come on. All one has to do is take their tuition elsewhere.

Anyone remember the parable about the wages to the workers who only worked a few hours??? Also a hard call, but a lesson there.

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