Opinion: Girls Deserve Chance to Try Out for All School Sports

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Copyright 2013 The Columbus Dispatch
All Rights Reserved

The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
August 21, 2013 Wednesday
478 words
Short takes; Girls deserve chance to try out;

It could have been a teachable moment had the Liberty Union-Thurston school board been gracious as it reversed itself to allow a 12-year-old girl try out for her middle-school football team.

But instead of owning up to a bad call, officials continue to insist they are right and grumble about having to cave so they wouldn't waste money to fight a lawsuit.

Makhaela Jenkins should never have been denied the chance to suit up in the first place.

She and other girls should be allowed to try out for football; those who make the grade should get to play.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio had to write the board to warn it that its decision was "unacceptable and unlawful." Title IX, the federal law that covers equal opportunity in sports, has been around for decades, and more than 100 girls are playing on school football teams in Ohio, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Unfortunately, the district now has painted itself into a corner.

If Makhaela doesn't make the team, many will wonder if she still is a victim of gender discrimination. If she does make it, some might ask whether the district lowered its standards simply to avoid legal action.

That would be unfair to Jenkins, who has grown up playing football with the boys on youth-league teams in Fairfield County and has the respect of coaches.

Other school districts should note this case and learn a lesson. If girls want to try out for the football team or any other school-sanctioned sport, give them the chance to show what they can do.

Naturalization ceremony a reminder of blessings

Lost in the national debate over illegal immigration is that many people do follow the rules, come with permission and dream of the day when they are no longer visitors, but citizens.

That dream comes true here frequently during naturalization ceremonies at the federal courthouse. One was held Friday, with 41 people from 21 nations becoming Americans.

Ashton Alhashimi, a 26-year-old refugee from Iraq, was one of them.

He was shaking as he rose before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, but his voice was loud and clear as he proclaimed "I'm proud to be an American."

Victor Reyes, 33, is a native of the Dominican Republic, but chose to become an American because "this is a great county with great opportunities.''

For him, the naturalization process was transformative. "This is a great moment. I feel different. I have what I was waiting for a long time," he said.

For the judges, who more typically see people at their worst, these joyous, teary-eyed ceremonies are the best part of the job.

Many of the immigrants have survived terrible circumstances and hardship to reach the United States, where they find new lives and hope.

They now are eager to embrace the privileges and duties of being an American citizen, cherishing the good fortune that many of those born here take for granted.

August 21, 2013

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