10
Dec
09

pregnant volleyball player fights for her rights…

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1 Response to “pregnant volleyball player fights for her rights…”


  1. December 10, 2009 at 3:31 PM

    By AVI SELK / The Dallas Morning News
    aselk@dallasnews.com
    A pregnant Fort Worth student whose family filed a civil rights complaint after she was suspended from the Arlington Heights High School volleyball team says she is now facing reprisals from classmates over the action.
    Mackenzie McCollum, 17, filed a Title IX complaint against Arlington Heights High in October, claiming she was benched after the school learned she was in her first trimester. Students cannot be excluded from activities based on pregnancy, according to federal law.
    The complaint was recently expanded to allege that teachers at the school played a November ESPN clip about McCollum during class, prompting a wave of verbal bullying.
    “It’s extremely sexist. It’s ugly,” said the student’s lawyer, Lara S. Kaufmann with the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. “They’re really attacking her for being pregnant in the first place and choosing to continue playing volleyball.”
    A student at the school set up a Facebook group in support of the coach and school last week. By Tuesday, it had more than 450 members and a long column of comments criticizing McCollum.
    “Way to go coach,” one commenter wrote. “What kind of idiot would want to play volleyball while pregnant anyway?”
    Kaufmann said her client’s right to play is about more than principles of equality.
    “These are activities that help keep students tied to school” when they’re pregnant, she said. “In a lot of cases, discriminated girls will drop out.”
    In McCollum’s case, the lawyer said, she missed out on potential college scholarships when recruiters came to the games because her coach kept her off the team. Even after a doctor sent a note saying there was no medical danger, the coach allowed her to play only at the start of each match.
    The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing the complaint. If it agrees that McCollum’s rights were violated, it can threaten to withhold funding from the school unless it adopts new policies.
    The Fort Worth school district said that it was legally restricted from discussing the case but that neither McCollum’s rights nor any law had been violated.
    “Our foremost concern through the entirety of the episode has been for the safety and rights of the student,” the statement read.


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