Brendan Johnston of The Classical Academy in Colorado says he’s never competed against a girl. When presented the opportunity to wrestle Jaclyn Gallegos in the Colorado state wrestling championships last weekend, and move closer to a possible state title, he stuck with his principles and decided to forfeit matches against two female wrestlers thus ending his high school career.
A devout Christian, Johnston, 18, attends the International Anglican Church in Colorado Springs.
“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,” he told The Washington Post. “And a part of that does come from how I was raised to treat women as well as maybe from different experiences and things.”
The senior explained to the newspaper that he’s never wrestled a girl since he started in the sport in the seventh grade. He said the physical aggression required in wrestling isn’t something he’s comfortable showing toward a girl, on or off the mat.
Johnson also said there was no gender bias in his decision not two wrestle the two girls. Equality seems never entered his mind. However, the differences between the sexes did.
“I don’t think that I am looking at them as not equal,” Johnston told the Post. “I am saying that they are women and that is different than being men because I do believe that men and women are different and we are made differently. But I still believe that women are of equal value to men. I don’t think that seeing men and women as different . . . (opposes) the idea of equality.”
Johnson said he believes if given the chance to do it all over again, he would would still choose not to wrestle.
“Even though it wasn’t exactly how I wanted things to go, it was a good way to end my high school career,” he said. “I would keep it all the same.”
“My whole thing is that I’m not a girl wrestler; I’m just a wrestler,” said Gallegos, a senior at Skyview High. “So it kind of doesn’t hurt my feelings, but I do kind of take it to heart.”
The question of fairness in girls sports recently came to a head last week when two biological males who identify as female, broke girls track records while winning against biological female competitors in state track championships in Connecticut.
The fairness issue when it comes to transgender athletes competing against females has come up several times in several sports venues over the last two years. Last October, a biological man who identifies as a female won a women’s world championship cycling event in California, sparking debate over how transgender athletes should be judged in sporting events.
In 2017, a boy who identifies as a girl won the girl’s 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in state championships in Connecticut. Earlier that same year, a 17-year-old transgender boy won the Texas state girls’ wrestling championship.
“It’s not equal,” one parent said. “It’s never going to be equal.”