A 12-year-old Georgia girl is fighting back after being kicked off the football team at her private Christian school because she is a girl.
Madison Paige Baxter, "Maddy," played last year as starting defensive tackle for the sixth grade team of Strong Rock Christian School, a pre-K to 12th grade private academy in Locust Grove, Ga.
"My mom counted that I had five sacks," Maddy said of her success on the field. "The entire crowd thought it was one of their boys but when they saw my number and looked at the roster, they saw it was me."
Now administrators at Strong Rock have told Maddy that she will not be allowed to play next year as a seventh-grader because she is a girl.
"It's taking that fun that I had for a year and snatching it right out from under me," Maddy said.
In a statement, the school defended its decision that sports should be separated by sex.
"Middle school girls play girls' sports and middle school boys play boys' sports," the statement read.
Maddy's mother, Cassy Blythe, said that a school official told her that boys have lustful thoughts and might think of Maddy in an impure way.
"I think it's very archaic and he needs to get with the times," Blythe said.
Blythe and her daughter have started a "Let Her Play" Facebook page in response to the school's decision. The page has already been liked more than 30,000 times since it was created Tuesday, and received hundreds of supportive comments.
"People should be limited by ability…not gender," one supporter wrote.
Blythe says that Maddy may switch schools if Strong Rock does not reverse its decision. In the meantime, Maddy will play in a recreational football league to continue with the sport she loves.
"It was her dream to get a scholarship one day, to be one of the first female football players in college," Blythe said. "She really had big dreams."