Thalia Townsend, the West Carroll middle school female student who wasn’t allowed to practice with the junior high football team earlier this year, will be allowed to play by the West Carroll Special School District, according to a news release by the ACLU.
Townsend was turned away from practice on May 11 by then-middle school football coach Chris Rich, reportedly because she was a girl.
Townsend’s mother, Michelle Larsen, contacted Superintendent Eric Williams, and he upheld the coach’s ruling in the interest of Townsend’s health and well-being despite there being a handful of girls playing varsity high school football across the country each year.
School district officials have now decided Townsend will be allowed to join the junior high team.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Townsend said in the release. “I love being outside and getting muddy, hanging out with my guy friends and being aggressive on the field.
“I am thankful to everyone who has believed in me and supported my family in this. Now I just can’t wait to get back out there and play for my school.”
The ACLU sent a letter to Williams in June urging him to change the ruling and allow Townsend to play.
“People should be allowed to work toward their goals and follow their dreams, no matter if they are a boy or a girl,” Larsen said. “We love our school district and are thrilled that they are now giving Thalia an equal opportunity to keep playing.
“We hope this shows all students – especially young girls – that if they believe in themselves and fight hard enough, they can do anything they set their hearts and minds to.”
Townsend, a rising seventh-grader at West Carroll Junior/Senior High School, has played left tackle in a community football league for two years.