Personal foul . . . Technical foul

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Should a woman be allowed to referee a boy’s basketball game?  Not if you are St. Mary’s Academy in Topeka KS where women should not be in a position of authority over men (including boys) because of religious beliefs. 

I had an undergrad who wrote a great thesis on the religious exemptions for Title VII.  I wonder if this one will fly.  The world may never know because this woman ref doesn’t want to do anything about it.  Though her male colleagues seem interested.  Does this school have no female teachers/nuns?

hat tip:  MOM

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8 Responses to Personal foul . . . Technical foul

  1. briand0n0van says:

    “Some women teach boys, and the girls can participate in intramural-type sports.”
    http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/487355.html

    What exactly, I wonder, are the women allowed to teach the boys?

    I’ve heard of religious exemptions for vaccinations, but this is a new one for me. The executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association is looking into it and could decide to remove St. Mary’s Academy from the list of 300 member schools. But it seems like they’ll take that action only if the school has a written policy of not allowing female referees to work boys basketball games.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/highschool/02/13/female.official.ap/index.html

  2. Is this really a Title VII claim? I ask because I think the referee is employed by the basketball association rather than St. Mary’s. If that’s the case, does the referee still have a cause of action against the school under Title VII?

    This case does not raise your normal religious exemption from Title VII claims because it has to do with gender-based discrimination by the sectarian employer and thus is likely not constitutional. If St. Mary’s had dismissed the referee because she was a secular humanist rather than a Catholic, then that dismissal may justified by a religious exemption stemming from Corp. of Presiding Bishops v. Amos, 483 US 327 (1987), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1986/1986_86_179/ (holding that religious employers have leeway to discriminate along denominational lines in hiring/firing).

  3. laurabethnielsen says:

    Isn’t she being discriminated against on the basis of sex?

  4. LB–right, not on the basis of religion.

  5. lbsmom says:

    How can you decide which it is? It feels like both to me. The religious belief of St. Mary’s Academy is that men shall not be subject to women, so isn’t the writer, aka, the apostle Paul, to blame? I’ve heard this explained (never excused) as a product of its time, like slavery or not allowing women to vote. All fixed now, correct? Just because government passes a law against an established practice doesn’t necessarily alleviate its effects.

  6. briand0n0van says:

    It’s an excellent point, but I’m not quite ready to blame Paul, if only because it leaves too many living people off the hook. Your comment made me think of the other sources of “legality” in this situation. The school is St. Mary’s Academy; doesn’t Mary have some claim to “Mother of God,” and doesn’t that acknowledge a divine authority of women?

    And I imagine that most mothers (certainly in multi-kid households) are routinely called on to be “referees,” and I doubt the school officials would have any problem with women exercising authority over two squabbling 5 year-olds. The school officials would brand the mother as a failure, I imagine, if she didn’t exercise that authority.

  7. laurabethnielsen says:

    Interestingly, this brand/version of Catholicism led the leader to be excommunicated from the Catholic church according to the article.

    As to the discriminaiton point – she is being discriminated against on the basis of sex, btu the question is if the school is exempt from the law making that illegal because it is based on a religious teaching.

    So yes, Geoff, most of those religion cases are about only hiring a catholic to be the receptionist at the catholic church (when there is no REAL reason to discriminate against say, a Muslim who can perform receptionist duties).

    BUT, this is more like “why can’t a woman be a Cardinal in the Catholic church?”

  8. vickywoeste says:

    Typical Catholic church misogyny (says the practicing Catholic). The church should lose an employment discrimination lawsuit like this because the practice in question (having a woman referee in charge of boys) does not relate to a core teaching/practice of the church. If this logic held, then no woman, whether or not a nun, could have any authority over a man of any age, and that would mean no woman could run a Catholic school. Doubtful that would be the desired result. Some idiot is going a little nuts here, and this is the kind of example that gets attention, because it seems so “typical” of the “old” Church when, in fact, it is fairly rare.

    Compare this to a much more common discriminatory practice the courts have consistently protected: As employers, Catholic churches and hospitals are not required to provide health care benefits for contraception, abortion, or sterilization because those things are all proscribed by Catholic moral teaching (and largely ignored by most lay American Catholics). Not even in the case of rape or incest.

    The Church’s infatuation with natural law’s stultifying approach to sexuality is to blame is not likely to change anytime soon, not with this pope and not with this College of Cardinals. We won’t get women priests in our lifetime. But eventually we will, and the official theology will be forced to change. I figure in about 500 years the Church will catch up to, say, the 19th century . . .

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