Teen Athlete Claims She Was Benched for Pregnancy
Filed under: In The News
A Texas teen claims she was benched from her high school volleyball team because she is pregnant and that her coach told her teammates the big news without consulting her, according to ESPN.
Senior Mackenzie McCollum was a starting setter on the Arlington Heights High School volleyball team in Fort Worth, Texas, and according to Good Morning America, the school's athletic coordinator ordered her off the team until she could provide a note from her doctor after he found out she was pregnant.
After she got the note, the 17-year-old found that in her absence coach Jack Warren informed her teammates that she is expecting, Good Morning America reports. She was further distraught when her playing time was drastically reduced despite of her doctor's note saying that she was perfectly healthy and capable of participating on the team.
"He told me that he always does this before people move up and before the seniors leave, and then I looked on the court and everyone else was still there," McCollum tells Good Morning America, choking up. "I felt like this was the one thing that I could count on ... that everything would be OK and everything would work out and then that, too, was taken away, so it made me feel like I was kind of left with nothing to really count on."
The teen's mother, Barbara Horton, filed four complaints against the district alleging that the school discriminated against her daughter "on the basis of her sex and retaliated against her." The government opened an investigation of the case, because gender discrimination is a violation of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits such acts in athletics.
"My goal is for them to change their policies to include pregnant athletes," Horton said, "to nurture pregnant athletes, and to make sure that these athletes are successful."
The Fort Worth Independent School District asserts that it is only concerned about McCollum's health and safety and released a statement about the matter to ABC News: "The Fort Worth Independent School District is restricted by law from discussing specific cases involving students. However, we believe our foremost concern through the entirety of this episode has been for the safety and the rights of the student. We strongly contend neither the student's rights, district policy, state or federal law has been violated."
Meanwhile, McCollum's allegations have caused a stark division in her Texas community, and a Facebook page supporting coach Warren has 458 supporters as of this week.
Do you think the district violated McCollum's right to play?
Related: Teen Pregnancy Takes its Toll on Young Parents
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.