When teen honor student Mackenzie McCollum got pregnant, she figured she’d work out the stress on the volleyball court. Then her school kicked her off the team.
Thanks to a mom who isn’t going to take the discrimination case lying down, McCollum’s Texas’ high school is under investigation for violating Title IX, which guarantees pregnant athletes protection under the law.
Investigated by ESPN’s Outside the Lines (tip of the hat to Feministing for alerting us here at Babble), the issue circles around the Arlington Heights High School assumption that pregnancy constitutes an injury. In order to stay on the team, McCollum had to produce a doctor’s note proving she could play.
When the doctor cleared her with the condition that she keep her heart rate relatively low, the school said no deal – even though she’s a setter on the volleyball team and the doctor said he thought she’d be fine. So he wrote a second note clearing her completely, and the school had to relent. But the coach docked her playing time anyway, which representatives of the Women’s Law Center note constitute retaliation.
Why is a school treating a pregnant teen like an invalid? Last we checked, the American Pregnancy Association and every other expert on pregnancy on the planet says exercise is the best thing for pregnant women. And if you want to go volleyball specific, let’s talk about Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh – playing at a much higher pressure level, she was pregnant when she captured a world tour gold medal.
Could this perhaps be a knock specifically on a teen girl for her choices? Read the comments at Outside the Lines, and they smack of chauvinism. And not surprisingly there’s little to be said for the boy who was part of this pregnancy equation (and is no longer involved, even as she graduates from high school this month). Even one commenter who makes mention of the boy, noting he’s twenty-three, acts as though that’s Mackenzie’s fault, rather than questioning what a twenty-three-year-old was doing having sex with a teenager.
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