Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Feminist News

Thanks to Dan S. in the comments for alerting me to this story:

Kansas activities officials are investigating a religious school's refusal to let a female referee call a boys' high school basketball game.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary's Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.

The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs.

Campbell then walked off the court along with Darin Putthoff, the referee who was to work the game with her.

"I said, 'If Michelle has to leave, then I'm leaving with her,'" Putthoff said Wednesday. "I was disappointed that it happened to Michelle. I've never heard of anything like that."

Fred Shockey, who was getting ready to leave the gym after officiating two junior high games, said he was told there had been an emergency and was asked to stay and officiate two more games.

"When I found out what the emergency was, I said there was no way I was going to work those games," said Shockey, who spent 12 years in the Army and became a ref about three years ago. "I have been led by some of the finest women this nation has to offer, and there was no way I was going to go along with that."

It's not absolutely clear that Campbell was not allowed to referee the game because of her gender. But if that indeed is the case, we are all reminded of the work that still remains to be done in feminism (as if you needed reminding; I'm just pontificating here).

But isn't it sweet and wonderful how the other referees had her back? I got a tear in my eye reading that part. Because on some deeply primal emotional level this is what equality and fairness is all about: being accepted as a full member of the team.