- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LAYTON, Utah (AP) - A junior high student in northern Utah has been given a federal judge’s permission to join her school’s once all-male wrestling team while the gender discrimination case remains in court.

The girl’s mother, Kelly Janis, filed a federal lawsuit to strike down as unconstitutional the Davis County School District policy that prevented her daughter from joining the team because of her gender, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/2kLI7UO ).

A judge earlier this month ordered the district to allow girls to wrestle while both sides argue.

“It’s not just about my daughter - it’s about all of them,” Janis said.

Ninth-grade student Kathleen Janis got interested in the sport by watching her brother at his wrestling practices. She had been training and competing in clubs for four years, but was told she couldn’t try out for her middle-school team.

The district permits female wrestlers at the high school level, but not in middle schools over concerns about “inappropriate or sexual touching,” according to the lawsuit.

The ruling allowed both Kathleen Janis and classmate Gabbi Serrao to join the Central Davis Junior High School wrestling team. They had their first meet of the season Tuesday.

They both won, though Kathleen was declared victorious by forfeit when the other team didn’t have an opponent in her 175-pound weight class.

“To get here, it’s been tough,” Kathleen Janis said. “But we’re good.”

Serrao said she’d long been interested in wrestling and joined the team after she heard about Janis’s court victory. “She helped get girls to be able to wrestle,” Gabbi said.

Davis County School District spokesman Chris Williams said at the match Tuesday that the district is following the judge’s order. He also acknowledged it was exciting to see Serrao best her opponent on the mat.

Kelly Janis thought so too.

“To see these girls here, to be part of the school, it is definitely worth the fight,” she said, “and I’d do it all over again.”


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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