INDIANAPOLIS Logan Young has been playing baseball with the boys for nine years, and she and her parents don't think that should change now that she's in high school.
The 14-year-old and her family have filed a federal lawsuit over an Indiana High School Athletic Association rule that prohibits the Bloomington South freshman from trying out for the high school baseball team because she is female.
"In this day and age, a girl should have the opportunity to participate on an equal footing with the boys in high school sports and the IHSAA precludes that," Tae Sture, one of the family's attorneys, said Monday.
"Our feeling is, quite frankly, there's no rational reason for it," he said.
An IHSAA rule prohibits girls from trying out for baseball if their school has a softball team on the basis that the sports are comparable. But the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis argues that baseball and softball aren't the same sport, so girls should be able to try out for baseball.
The suit seeks to have the IHSAA rule thrown out based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and Title IX, the federal law that mandates equal educational opportunities for boys and girls.
The suit, filed by Logan and her parents, Marie-Elisabeth and Russell Young of Bloomington, names the IHSAA and the Monroe County Community school district as defendants.
Logan has played third base and outfield in coed community baseball leagues since age 5. She also plays volleyball and basketball.
Her family contacted the IHSAA in May to see whether Logan could participate in baseball during the 2008-09 season. Commissioner Blake Ress said she couldn't because Bloomington South has a softball team, the lawsuit said.
Ress said Monday he had not seen the lawsuit but that the girl's family and the school had not applied for a waiver from the rule.
"Last spring we had a girl from Wabash and gave her a waiver to allow her to play," Ress said. "Our intent was, if we had others, we would do that. This (lawsuit) is kind of out of the blue to me."
The high school, which has a female kicker on its football team, supports Logan's desire to play and is seeking a waiver so she can try out for baseball, said Bloomington South athletic director J.R. Holmes.
But the lawsuit argues that a waiver which requires showing extreme hardship shouldn't be necessary.
"Softball and baseball are not the same sport, so she has the right to try out," said Sharon F. McKee, the lead attorney in the case. Under current rules, a boy wanting to play softball also would have to seek a waiver, she said.
Precedent may be on Logan's side, according to McKee. The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled in a similar case in 1989 that baseball and softball are not substantially equal sports, she said, and 24 state athletic associations already allow girls to choose between softball and baseball.
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