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Utah teen pushes for boys to be allowed in drill competitions

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 20:01:13-05

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Jayden Herman-Lopez, a student at Granger High School, is trying to change a rule that bars him from competing on the school's drill team.

Herman-Lopez is a senior at Granger and said he has worked for three years to get on the team.

"I wasn't able to do it my freshman through junior year because they weren't going to allow boys to be on the team," he said.

As of right now, he is allowed to perform with the team at school events, but can't compete in any events sponsored by the Utah High School Activities Association. This is because rules set by the UHSAA define drill team as "a female only sport."

"It's just frustrating that this one little rule is keeping him from competing with us when we all want him to," said Katlyn Gehlen, president of the Granger High School drill team.

Despite not being able to compete, Herman-Lopez said he still has to pay team and competition fees in order to have an active spot on the roster.

"I have to show up at six in the morning every day to practice, I'm paying the same amount, I'm putting in all the work, working out with them doing all the dances and learning different spots," he said. "And then just to know at the end of the day it really doesn't matter and I won't get to compete, it's really upsetting."

Mark Van Wagoner, legal counsel for the UHSAA, said the rule is in place for a good reason.

"In the state of Utah, there are many more opportunities for boys than girls," Van Wagoner said.

In order to remain Title IX compliant, schools try to balance out the number of boys and girls participating in sports. Van Wagoner said because there are more opportunities for boys, limiting drill team to female only tries to create that balance.

"The hope of complying with Title 9, and in reality, the hope of having more participation by the girls in high school is one of the things that drives it," he added.

Herman-Lopez said at this point, he knows he is unlikely to change the rule before he graduates in the spring, but that hasn't stopped him from trying.

"Five years down the road, I want that boy who decides he wants to be on the drill team to be able to just go on and compete with the rest of the team without any complications or problems," he said.