The Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations changed its gender equity policy this week to allow female athletes to play on boys’ teams.
The policy shift means 17-year-old Courtney Greer can play defence on her schools boys’ soccer team. She filed an application with the Human Rights Tribunal, arguing the original OFSAA policy prohibited her from playing because of her gender. She believes the change will give girls a choice and create more leadership opportunities for younger girls on sports teams.
Doug Gellatly, OFSAA’s executive director, is worried the new policy diminishes the value of girls’ sports in schools. He says he was forced by the Human Rights Tribunal to make the change.
OFSAA states in its bylaw that it is committed to removing barriers for female athletes. Previously, the association’s policy was that girls are only eligible to try out for a boys’ team if a sport activity was not available for them. The same policy applied to Manitoba’s high schools, but that was recently challenged in court by twin sisters, Amy and Jesse Pasternak.
In 2006, the twins filed a complaint against the Manitoba High School Athletic Association, after it denied them the right to try out for the senior boys’ ice hockey team. A Winnipeg human-rights adjudicator ruled that the Pasternak sisters were victims of gender discrimination.