Girls in Maryland's secondary schools can now try out of any sports hitherto restricted to boys, including the contact sports of football, wrestling, soccer, and lacrosse, under a ruling issued yesterday by the Maryland Department of Education.
The regulation effective immediately, eliminates sections of the education code that banned girls from playing against boys in Maryland's 315 public secondary schools, according to Gus Crenson, a department spokesman.
The regulation insures that they be given "equal opportunity" to complete for a sport on the squard. Crenson said. The regulation does not require that teams now have a quota of girl player, he said.
The regulation is expected to have the greatest immediate impact in soccer, because of the many qualified girl players who have been trained in programs throughout the state, according to Malcom Kitt, an assistant attorney general who worked on the new rule.
"I would expect to see several girls make their school teams," Kitt said.
The regulation does not address such questions as the need for additional locker room space if girls are added to previously all-boy teams, uniform changes or the possibility of rule changes in the various sports, said Kitt. "Those are details that can be worked out late," he noted.
Although the regulation, 044 permits girls to try out for previously all-boy teams, it does not permit boys to try out for such all-girl sports as field hockey, softball, and volley-ball, Kitt said.
"We feel that would be defeating the concept of the regulation, which is to give girls and equal opportunity to compete with boys, if they choose Boys at that age are stronger than girls, and would probably come to dominate those sports if they were allowed to try out," he said.
There are 420,000 students enrolled in Maryland's secondary schools (grade six through 12), although it was not known how may students participated in organized sports, according to Crenson, the department spokesman.
"The regulation was developed to bring the schools in compliance with the Maryland Equal Rights Amendment, which was ratified in 1972," said attorney Kitt. The amendment to the state constitution bans discrimination of any kind on the basis of sex, he said.
Spokesman for the Montgomery County are Prince George's county school boards said they could not comment on the new regulation until they had actually read it. The regulation was mailed out yesterday.
In recent years serveral law suits by female students and their parents have forces area school boards to broaden the availability of sport programs for women. These suits have successfully claimed that school districts that receive federal funds must offer equal athletic programs for boys and girls.