‘We want him to have the opportunity to compete…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A high-school boy is claiming he was discriminated against after a New York school district told him he could not compete with the female gymnastics team.
Westchester County decided 17-year-old Cruz Vernon could no longer be a scoring member of the all-girls gymnastics team because his physical advantage “would result in a female gymnast being displaced.”
Because the female team is the district’s only competitive gymnastics team, Vernon is arguing the school is discriminating against him.
Vernon said he would be willing to “still do my routines doing competitions and get scored for them, but whatever score I received wouldn’t count toward the team’s score,” he told WCBS-TV.
The Section 1 committee, which determines the rules for several counties’ sports teams, upheld the school district’s decision, however, stating Vernon “exceeds the physical abilities of his team … thereby creating an unfair advantage.”
Vernon’s mother appealed the decision, but her request was denied. As a result, Vernon’s mother said she will bring her son’s discrimination complaint to the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.
“What we really want is a resolution,” the Vernon family’s lawyer, Paul Barger, explained. “We want him to have the opportunity to compete.”
Vernon is not transgender, but this conflict is similar to the problems faced by many female athletes who have been forced to compete against their biological male peers who identify as females. To resolve this tension, Republican lawmakers in five states are seeking to pass measures that would require students to compete according to their biological sex.
“I’m just trying to maintain fairness,” Republican Tennessee Rep. Bruce Griffey, who is sponsoring one such bill in his state, told the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t want girls to be at a disadvantage.”
Vernon started a petition on Change.org seeking a rules change for mixed competition sports, specifically gymnatics. It currently has more than 3,000 signatories.