In this age of Title IX and female empowerment, it’s hard to believe that any girl would be denied her right to engage in the same athletic activities as her male classmates. But for one pigskin-punting young girl in Georgia, that discrimination remains a reality. And the reason her Christian school gave for it was undeniably gross.

12-year-old Strong Rock Christian School student Maddy Paige has been playing football since the second grade and dreams of someday winning a football scholarship to college. Up until recently, she played alongside the boys in the junior football league the school has for its younger students, and held her own, too. But Maddy entered middle school recently, and you all know what that means: she went from a respected teammate to a tempting, beautiful sex object, sullying her male teammates’ virtue with every step she took. So naturally, her school kicked her off the team.

According to Maddy’s mother Cassy Blythe, the school was totally open about the messed up reasoning behind its decision. “In the meeting with the CEO of the school [Patrick Stuart], I was told that the reasons behind it were one, that the boys were going to start lusting after her and have impure thoughts about her and that the locker-room talk was not appropriate for a female to hear even though she had a separate locker room from the boys,” she told Fox 5 News in Atlanta.

This begs the question of why simply going to class with girls is okay for these boys, but playing sports with them is a bridge too far. Also, as I have said time and time again, designating women as the gatekeepers of male sexuality contributes to a victim-blaming culture in which “boys will be boys” and it’s the girl’s responsibility to guard herself from their natural impulses. Cool with raising rapists? Feel free to ignore this fact.

Maddy’s mom gets this, and articulated it wonderfully to Fox 5:

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. It shouldn’t be held against Maddy that the boys can’t control their urges and their thoughts. They need to learn how to handle what’s going on with them just like she needs to learn how to handle what’s going on with her growing up, and I think it could be a good learning experience for both the boys and any girls that decide to play at the school.”

A Facebook page has since been set up in support of Maddy (and all female athletes), and public outcry and media coverage are mounting, so there may be hope yet. I’ll leave you with this inspirational little message from Maddy herself (excerpted):

When I was told my gender would prevent me from continuing my dream I was crushed. I felt like my heart fell on the floor and the school stomped on it. I worked hard to earn my spot and I deserve to play. I will never allow someone to tell me I can’t do something I’ve already proved I can do. I might be young but don’t think that will stop me. My voice will be heard and I will fight for what is right.

There are other people who have been in my position since the beginning of time. Those people took a stand. I will follow them and take my stand. I have the strength to push forward and fight for what is right. I have the power to fight for those who will follow in my footsteps. I have the courage to show the world that athletes deserve better.

You show ’em, girl!

(Via Buzzfeed)