Martial arts prodigy denied spot on a wrestling team of boys she’d destroy.

Amanda Leve is a 16 year-old martial arts prodigy.  She has made a national name for herself by competing against male wrestlers and martial artists in weight divisions two levels above her own and still dominating.  She’s a pretty inspiring figure.

Unfortunately, she attends a Catholic High School, so when she signed up for the wrestling team she wasn’t judged by her talent (except for all the boys who secretly feared stepping onto the mat against her), but by her genitalia.

…despite all of her fighting accomplishments, her high school won’t let her join the wrestling team. She is not allowed to join the team because, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, gender differences play a vital role in the development of a mature Christian identity. Allowing a female to join a male wrestling team could compromise that gender identity development.

This essentially boils down to “You can’t wrestle – not because of your talent, but because you’re a girl – and if you go doing boy stuff you might not be interested in things that women are supposed to do.”  Because she’s totally going to stop training in the sport she loves and develop an interest in interior decorating because she was denied a spot on the wrestling team.

Is there any other inherent property of a person’s birth where this applies?  What if the story read like this:

…despite all of his football accomplishments, his high school won’t let him join the football team. He is not allowed to join the team because, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, racial differences play a vital role in the development of a mature Christian identity. Allowing a black person to join a football team could compromise that racial identity development.

That sounds ludicrous, and it should – but it’s the exact same thing.  It’s telling someone they can’t do something for an arbitrary reason – because people born like you don’t do those things.  And no amount of saying “But I do!  And I’m really good at those things!” will change their minds.

And as ludicrous as the second example sounds, this is how it was in basketball for a very long time.  Ditto for baseball.

The scenario is all the more insidious because it could cost Amanda a scholarship to attend college, where enshrined prejudices of religion are less present thanks to the effects of an academic environment on dogma.

One of the main reasons Amanda wants to join the wrestling team is because she thinks it will increase her chances of earning a college scholarship. Barring an unforeseen change from the school, she will not be on the team this year. There is hope for next year, but that’s got to be an unsatisfying answer for Amanda.

But to the school, whose job it is to get kids into college, that doesn’t matter.  She’s a girl, and god says she can’t wrestle – despite her numerous accolades which stand in defiance of god’s assessment.

So many evils, sexism among them, that are glossed over as moral and necessary once people get faith in their brains.  This is Christianity at it’s core: the idea that your life is the church’s, and they’ll tell you what you should do with it and who you should love.  What a vile notion that is.  I’m glad to see Amanda won’t let them dictate who she is.

FAITH: Woman burns down yoga studio to “get rid of the devil’s temple.”
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FAITH: Woman burns down yoga studio to “get rid of the devil’s temple.”
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Artor

    As a private school, there might be some difficulty with this, but I hope she can sue the school for discrimination under Title 9. If there is a national spotlight brought to the situation, she might get that scholarship despite the Catholic school’s attempts to relegate her to kinder, küche & kirche.

  • baal

    “gender identity development.”<– I didn't need anyone to help me with this. I don't think most folks do and all too often see that attempts to externally define a gender identity and force it on someone leads to that person having problems.

    It's a bit like being left vs right handed. You can teach a lefty to write with their right hands and some may even be good at it, that doesn't make them in fact right handed.

  • Loqi

    It wouldn’t even stop if they let her join the wrestling team. We had a girl on our wrestling team up until 6th grade or so. She was quite skilled, but she didn’t get to demonstrate it as often as she should have because other kids would refuse to face her (or their parents/coaches wouldn’t let them face her). I imagine it’d be even worse for Amanda because she’s earned a reputation for being good. “I won’t fight a girl” is a convenient dodge when you’re really just afraid of getting smashed.

  • Roger Barton

    Maybe she should start communicating with universities she’s interested in, particularly with their sports directors and coaches, for advice on how to get where she wants to go in spite of the priests. Maybe she should even try to get a letter to the Pope… he seems open to change.