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Judge allows Utah viral video star Sam Gordon's lawsuit to play girls football to go to trial

Posted at 11:19 AM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 13:24:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge will allow viral football star Sam Gordon's lawsuit against several school districts and the Utah High School Activities Association to proceed to trial.

Gordon and a group of unnamed girls sued the Canyons, Granite and Jordan districts, as well as the USHAA, alleging a violation of Title IX (the law that prevents sex discrimination) by not allowing them to play football. Gordon, who gained fame over videos showing her beating boys her age in football games went viral. She was also featured in an ad for the NFL aired during the Super Bowl.

Court records show U.S. District Court Judge Howard Nielsen dismissed The Canyons District from part of the lawsuit because some of the plaintiffs had graduated from high school. However, the judge allowed the rest to proceed to trial.

"Yesterday’s ruling was a major step toward gender equality in our schools and a major victory for the right of female students to have a voice in deciding the sports offered to them by their schools. There is no question that the lineup of sports offered to girls by the UHSAA is grounded on outdated stereotypes about girls’ interests in sports," Brent Gordon, Sam's father and an attorney in the case, told FOX 13 in an email.

"The court ruling made clear that a federal judge has the authority under Title IX to order districts to offer girls football teams," he added.

The judge recently ordered a survey of Salt Lake County girls through districts about their interest in sports. Gordon said that while USHAA offered wrestling for girls, "interest in girls football was high and outranked interest in lacrosse, tennis, golf, cross country, and swimming - all sports that are currently sanctioned by the UHSAA and offered by the schools."

"Given the large roster size of football teams, adding girls football makes the most sense in making up the current participation disparity and is one that girls want more than wrestling and other sports," he wrote.

Gordon said the plaintiffs are seeking girls football teams in schools, not to force girls and boys to compete against each other. The lawsuit is expected to go to trial soon.

"The judge was aware of the time sensitive nature of the case given that the remaining plaintiffs are going to be seniors next year and was extraordinarily accommodating by agreeing to hold a trial in a few weeks. We look forward to trial and the opportunity for girls, for the first time in our state’s history, to have a say in what sports they get to play," he wrote.