YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A battle over sex equality in Westchester County is sharpening as a male athlete vows to continue his fight to rejoin a girl’s volleyball team.
The only boy on the Yonkers High School girls volleyball squad, Jensen Daniel, has lost his first appeal to rejoin his old teammates.
“I feel like they didn’t listen to me. Like they don’t care about what this means to me,” Daniel told CBS 2’s Lou Young on Tuesday.
Because there’s no boys’ team at Yonkers, Daniel was invited to join the girls last year.
They performed well, perhaps too well.
Randolph McLaughlin, a professor at Pace Law School and civil rights expert, said the team and the player are now being victimized.
“I think it’s discrimination in that this matter should be pressed to another level of review to determine whether or not this young man should be able to play on this team,” said McLaughlin. “I think, what’s going on here is the other schools apparently don’t like the fact that this Yonkers team is doing so well.”
State athletic officials for the downstate region told Daniel he’s too strong to play with the girls this year. He pointed out volleyball isn’t a contact sport. His fellow students also seemed universally supportive.
“There’s no difference between him playing last year and this year,” junior Jayden Mapa said.
“He plays like everybody else, so why shouldn’t he get a chance?” Miranda Santiago added.
The Yonkers School District said it may force another appeal even if volleyball season ends before its heard.
“He’s part of the team. He’s been part of the team for over a year,” said Jim Rose of Yonkers School Athletics.
“It might not help me, but I’m looking for the benefits of myself. I’m looking for the benefits of the kids yet to come,” Daniel said.
If nothing else, Daniel hopes his high school will field a boys volleyball team next year when he’s in college.
Daniel said he’s reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union for help in pressing his case.