13-Year-Old Fights Philadelphia Catholic Youth Organization So Girls Can Play Football…Again

It seems that the Philadelphia Catholic Youth Organization has had a change of heart in regards to girls playing football. You see, two years ago a brave and determined 11-year-old Caroline Pla fought for the right to play with the local team.

Petition against Catholic football league banning girls   YouTube

After an extensive campaign that included a visit to the Ellen Degeneres Show, as well as other media attention, Pla was allowed to play. While the fight seemed to be over, now a new one is just beginning.

Even though the Catholic Youth Organization did allow Pla to participate, Bustle.com reports that the decision was on a ?provisional? basis. Now it seems they have adopted a policy that will not allow girls to participate in certain contact sports. While they have allowed Pla to finish her time with her current team, this decision does not sit well with Pla and others.

The new policy from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference Education Department reads as this:

?Preparation for Christian adulthood likewise involves the development and encouragement of appropriate, dignified and respectful forms of contact between male and female students. The [Arch]Diocese therefore believes that it is incompatible with its religious mission and with its effort to teach Gospel values to condone competitions between young men and women in sports that involve substantial and potentially immodest physical contact. Consequently, the [Arch]Diocese has adopted this policy prohibiting co-ed participation in the following sports: wrestling, tackle football and tackle rugby.?

In order to fight this blatant gender discrimination, the Huffington Post points out that a federal amendment called Title IX could help Pla in her fight. Title IX says no one can be,

?excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.?

As Pla’s mother Marycecelia puts it,

??as long as they receive federal funds to adhere to Title IX rules, they won’t be able to just rewrite a handbook to get away with gender discrimination. It is illegal to do so.?

So in the end, while the church may enjoy tax exemption status, when you accept federal money backed by taxpayers, there are certain rules to follow. And what does ?immodest physical contact? mean anyway? Has the Catholic Youth Organization never watched a football game before? There’s a lot of butt patting going on between men out there. Does that count?

For those looking to help in Pla’s fight for future generations of young women to participate in the sport of their choice, she has launched a Change.org petition that you can sign here.


Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America and AmReading.com. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she had a long and successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.