A high school senior in Colorado ended his high school wrestling career after forfeiting matches scheduled against female opponents because he did not feel it was right for boys to wrestle girls.
Brendan Johnston, an 18-year-old wrestler at Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, pulled out of his match against Skyview High senior Jaslynn Gallegos because he felt that it was not proper for a boy to wrestle a girl.
He repeated his actions for a separate match when he was scheduled to wrestle Valley High junior Angel Rios.
Johnston said that he felt he faced a dilemma, either wrestle against the girls for his school, or stay true to his beliefs.
He chose his convictions.
Johnston, who is Christian, told Fox 31: “It’s so physical, physically close. I don’t think that’s really appropriate with a young lady. It’s also very aggressive and I’m not really, I guess, comfortable with that.”
“There is something that I really do find problematic about the idea of wrestling with a girl, and a part of that does come from my faith and my belief,” the teenager said.
Johnston added that he does not mean any disrespect to the girls.
“I think it’s possible to forfeit while still respecting them as athletes and competitors. I really don’t want to disrespect the hard work these ladies have put in,” Johnston said. “They’ve done a lot of that too. Some people think by forfeiting I’m disrespecting them. That’s not my intention at all.”
‘Wrestling is something we do, it’s not who we are. And there are more important things to me than my wrestling. And I’m willing to have those priorities,” he added.
Angel Rios said she also still respects Johnston even though he refused to wrestle her.
For her part, Jaslynn Gallegos criticized Johnston hinting that his forfeiting was a way to demean her abilities.
“This whole time that I’ve wrestled, it’s just me trying to prove a point that I am just a wrestler,” she told the Washington Post.
“And so the fact that my gender is something that kind of holds me back still is just a little nerve-racking, but I respect his decision. It’s fine,” Gallegos added.
“My whole thing is that I’m not a girl wrestler; I’m just a wrestler. So, it kind of doesn’t hurt my feelings, but I do kind of take it to heart,” she concluded.
But you are a girl, Miss Gallegos. You are not “just a wrestler.”
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