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Valley Christian Academy, a religious school in Santa Maria, California, said it would forfeit an upcoming football game rather than play an opposing team that has two girls on the roster. It’s not the first time they’ve done this sort of thing, either.

The game in question doesn’t take place until October 29, but it’ll be an automatic win for the Broncos of Coast Union High School. To that school’s credit, the coaches aren’t apologizing for having two girls on their roster:

“I am upset with VCA’s decision, especially because [Emily Reed and Andrea Aguilar] are being singled out for their gender,” Bronco Head Coach Andrew Crosby said in an email.

“It’s not fair,” he continued, “and I hope that because of the support of their families, the team, and community, that they can have confidence that we support them.”

Crosby emphasized that the team would “not consider either of them sitting out. They are part of our team and will suit up for every game. It’s difficult because you want to explain to them that it’s not their fault. …”

That’s how you do it. Hell, I would love to see every other team playing VCA this season show some solidarity by adding girls to their rosters just to ensure a victory before the kickoff.

But this isn’t just about ethics. The Christian school’s actions may also be illegal.

Last year, they also refused to play a team that had a girl on it. The two sides scrimmaged against each other without a problem, but after that practice game ended and the players took off their helmets, the Christian school realized one of their opponents was a girl. The coaches and administrators allegedly “glared at [the player] while shaking their heads in disbelief.” VCA later sent that school a letter stating that the female player wouldn’t be permitted to compete on their campus.

That girl’s family later sued VCA for violating state and federal rights (along with “infliction of emotional distress”). Specifically, they said refusing to play a game because there are girls on the other team violated Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in sports. The California Interscholastic Federation says all member schools must abide by Title IX, making this a state issue as well.

That lawsuit hasn’t been resolved yet. But it’s still moving forward because a judge ruled that the Christian school is subject to Title IX requirements because it received PPP funding from the government. They can’t accept federal funding but reject federal rules.

Beyond the legal problems, however, look at how the school defended its position by citing their faith. It’s safe to assume their beliefs haven’t changed since they said this last year:

“In our handbook, one of our clearly defined boundaries is, ‘There is to be no physical contact between boys and girls at Valley Christian Academy.'”

He added that they train their boys to “rigorously to admire and value women as precious and worthy of respect.”

Football is a violent game, and we understand the value of such in training our young men within the boundaries of an organized sport,” [lead pastor and school superintendent for VCA Joel] Mikkelson wrote. “However, because of the nature of its contact, we will not play a team that has a female as part of its football team.”

More ridiculous things Christian schools have done, like kicking out this little girl.

You see, they want to spare the women-folk from being tackled because it’s disrespectful… even though it’s far more disrespectful to deny those girls a chance to display their skills on the field. The school also wants to make sure Christian boys don’t catch cooties… even though the uniform and padding and helmets would presumably prevent students from actually “touching” each other.

It’s so on-point for a conservative Christian school to act like a contact sport is equivalent to something sexual. It’s an incredibly condescending move by the Christian school to pretend those female athletes don’t know what they signed up for when they obviously had enough talent to make it onto their team. To quote an editorial in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Valley Christian Academy wants a girl to trade “her helmet and pads for a spoon and apron.”

While forfeiting the game is much better than whining about alleged persecution, there’s a simple solution here: The Christian school shouldn’t be allowed to compete against anyone. If it doesn’t want to abide by the rules, then it shouldn’t get to play against real teams. The students can just play games against each other.

It shouldn’t be a huge adjustment considering they already live in a Christian bubble.

And I haven’t seen anyone suggest this, but in case anyone does, let’s nip it in the bud right now: I really don’t want to see the two girls volunteering to stay on the bench during the football game out of “respect” to the Christian school.

No one should feel bad for Valley Christian Academy. If the coaches refuse to allow their team to compete in a sport for petty, misogynistic, faith-based reasons, they shouldn’t be rewarded for it, and there’s ample reason to think they should be punished for it by being kicked out of the conference altogether.

We’ve seen similar sexist stances taken by a Catholic school in Pennsylvania, a Christian wrestler in Colorado, and an Islamic soccer team in Ontario. They either raised a fuss about competing against women or they forfeited a competition as if they were religious martyrs.

None of them are martyrs. In this case, the coaches are Christian cowards who don’t understand the nature of competition.

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.