A panel of 20 people appointed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has voted 16-3, with one abstention, to uphold a ban on females in grades 5-8 playing Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) contact football, Forbes reports.
The panel's decision, reportedly reached on Feb. 14, would seemingly end the youth football aspirations of 11-year-old Caroline Pla of Buckingham Township.
Caroline was in her second season of CYO contact football last fall when a complaint registered by an opposing team led the Archdiocese to enforce a pre-existing ban against female players. The Archdiocese permitted Pla to finish the season.
Citing two panel members who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, Forbes reports that the panel, described by the Archdiocese as "consisting of priests, parents, coaches, and medical experts," focused on the possibility of "inappropriate touching" during youth football games:
One scenario the group was told to picture was a female quarterback putting her hands too close to the posterior of a male center. When asked what that meant, one source inferred the female QB would then be inclined to start inappropriately touching the center. The other source inferred that the boy might like the touching and perhaps more kids would start signing up to play the sport. That source had no explanation for drawing that personal conclusion.
Caroline, a sixth-grader at Cold Spring Elementary School, fell in love with the sport as a toddler and started playing when she was 5 years old.
After a few years playing Pop Warner, she had spent the past two seasons playing in a Catholic Youth Organization league, her mother Marycecelia Pla writes in a petition at change.org.
Now, at 11, Caroline and her parents, George and Seal Pla, argue that she is physically able to compete and has been an equal part of the team all along.
An official announcement of the Archdiocesan panel's decision is expected by mid-March.
- Philadelphia Catholic Church Panel Votes To Ban Females From Football, Fears Inappropriate Touching (Forbes.com)
- Doylestown Girl's Petition to Play Football Gaining Steam