Boys and girls together

August 28, 1991

Baltimore County's decision to ban boys from girls' sports teams might be logical in the context of the specific conflict that erupted when a girls' softball team from Parkville walked off the field after discovering that some of their opponents were male. ,, But in a broader context, the ruling is unwise.

Given the vagaries of budgets, gender-specific teams or activities frequently have the effect of diminishing opportunities

for all children. Not only does the new county policy imply that girls will be kept off all-boys' teams, but also that a boy who wants to play field hockey, for instance, could find there is not enough support in his school, or district, for all male-teams and, as a result, be unable to participate. That is, in fact, what prompted coaches from Turner Station to put boys on their girls' softball team in the first place.

Certainly administrators and parents are right to worry that size and weight differences among children, particularly adolescents, might pose a danger to the smaller kids. But it is a mistake to unequivocally equate that risk with gender. The range of physical development at every age is great. A more equitable solution to the problem underscored by the Parkville-Turner Station flap would be to offer boys and girls in each age category the same recreational opportunities, and then assign them to teams based on height and weight rather than gender.

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