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Former Utah HS Football Player Testifies of Harassment

September 17, 2020 / Athletic AdministrationFootball
A woman and former high school football player in Utah testified recently in a lawsuit filed against two school districts and the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) for harassment and isolation as the only girl on the team.

According to a report from the Deseret News, Laura Goetz claimed that during her time at West Jordan High School she was subjected to sexist language, jokes laced with sexual innuendo, uncomfortable situations — like dressing in the boys’ locker room with the rest of the team, and isolation. It affected her so much that she not only left the team, but also the school.

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Photo: David P. Johns / Creative Commons

“If you’re the only girl on a team like that it’s just a, it’s a challenging situation,” Goetz’s attorney, Tara Isaacson, told the Deseret News. “It’s not an equal opportunity. That’s the whole point is that there needs to be an alternative, there needs to be a girls tackle (football) team.”

Her lawsuit, according to the report, is filed against the Granite and Jordan School Districts as well as the UHSAA, and seeks to force the districts and association to provide girls tackle football leagues, claiming the current system is in violation of the Title IX and Equal Protection provisions of federal law.

Goetz had played football since the age of 10, the Deseret News said, and joined the West Jordan football team. Following her freshman year, which she described as a good experience, things turned when West Jordan made a change at the head coaching decision.

Citing her coach calling her “princess” despite being asked not to, a lack of her own changing room, and a text chain of inappropriate messages all were brought up in her testimony.

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Under cross-examination, Goetz did note that the school’s athletic director would yell at the players and disciplined others who said or acted inappropriately towards her. Additionally, the cross-examination revealed that though she was not offered a separate changing area, she never requested one — though she did attempt to use the girls locker room for home games, but sometimes it was locked, according to the report.

To read the full report from The Deseret News on Goetz’s case against two Utah school districts and the UHSAA, click here