MONTPELIER, VT., OCT. 9 -- A state judge agreed earlier this week to allow a boy to play for a high school's all-girl junior varsity field hockey team until a final court hearing scheduled for later this month.

Washington County Superior Court Judge James Morse issued a temporary restraining order setting aside a Vermont Headmaster's Association rule that bars boys from participating in field hockey games.

As a result, 14-year-old Jason Bathgate, a freshman at Union High School District 32, will be eligible to play in the final three games of the season.

The Headmaster's Association, a private organization that coordinates school activities, barred Bathgate from playing field hockey after his first game in mid-September, citing the association's agreement with the State Department of Education to safeguard girls sports from male domination.

"Basically Jason would like to play girls field hockey, and with an affirmative action program we have to consider field hockey a girls sport," said Scott Blanchard, the association's executive director.

Union High School has no field hockey team for boys. The sport has been traditionally viewed in the state as a girls pastime.

Bathgate, whose family originates in Scotland where field hockey is a male sport, played last year on his junior high school's field hockey team, but was not challenged.

"Last year my friends and I . . . decided that if girls could play soccer, then guys could play field hockey," Bathgate said. "This year I just decided, 'Hey, why not? I liked it last year. I might as well do it again.' "

"I don't think it's fair if girls can play guys sports that guys can't play girls {sports}," he said, adding that his physical ability is comparable to that of his 14 female teammates. "I'd say a lot of them are better than I am."

Ron Bathgate, Jason's father, appealed on his son's behalf to the American Civil Liberties Union, which took up the case.

"The plan is to go all the way through with this and get a decision," said attorney Peter Langrock, who is representing the Bathgates. "We have no intention of giving up after the season.

"It's an important matter to be decided by the courts -- so we have some guidelines for the future."

The rule under consideration prevents male athletes from competing in 10 sports, including field hockey, softball and eight sports that have male equivalents.