Parents in the Anoka-Hennepin School District (Minnesota) have filed complaints with both the U.S. Department of Education and the ACLU against the district because high schools there will not allow 7th and 8th grade middle school students to play on some high school VARSITY teams.
Minnesota State High School League eligibility for high school varsity athletes is grades seven through 12, according to CBS Minnesota.
Parent Brandon Paulson's daughter Sydney is a seventh grader competing on Anoka Senior High School's junior varsity cross country team. He feels she should be on the varsity team and claims the district is guilty of age discrimination.
From CBS Minnesota:
Talent trumps age when it comes to certain sports.
That’s why parents in the Anoka-Hennepin School District say seventh and eighth graders should be allowed to try out for varsity teams.
District policy says athletes in sports like cross country can’t compete at varsity unless they are in grades nine through 12.
Parents say changing the district’s policy could help schools land more state championships.
“So, generally in a large school, there are a lot of students competing for very few spots,” said Mary Olson with the Anoka-Hennepin District.
They are spots the district says should be reserved for high school-aged athletes only. For some, they say, it could be their last opportunity.
“The board doesn’t believe that winning is absolutely the ultimate, but that students should have an opportunity to have a good experience,” Olson said.
Some parents beg to differ, putting performance before participation.
“The Anoka-Hennepin School Board I don’t think understands that teaching these kids to be competitors; that’s great for life,” Brandon Paulson said.