High school forfeits soccer match after questioning athlete’s identity and eligibility

November 23, 2022 /

In the middle of the high school varsity soccer game between Mira Monte High School and Porterville’s Granite Hills High School, the Granite Hills team decided to forfeit the game over Mira Monte’s transgender goalkeeper. 

As Joseph Galeas began warming up for his game against the Granite Hills team, he was met with heckling and intrusive questions from the Granite Hills stadium benches. Galeas stated that as the game progressed, the complaints and comments from the opposing team continued.

Galeas stated that parents, students, and others on the Granite Hills sideline started a cheer to “get that guy off the field,” and at half-time, the Granite Hills coach asked the referees to confirm Galeas’s gender before choosing to forfeit the game.

Galeas has been playing soccer since he was six years old and has played with Mira Monte’s girl’s soccer team since his freshman year. Galeas was assigned female at birth but came out as transgender earlier this year.

“In my 11 years of playing, I never had such a bad experience,” Galeas commented in regard to the situation at Granite Hills. “Honestly I’m not the type to open up or speak up, but what happened shouldn’t happen to anyone. And the reason I did decide to speak up is to speak for everyone — not just myself.”

Since he was more comfortable playing with the girl’s team and has been with this team for years already, he decided to stay with them for his final high school season.

“Playing with the boys was an option, and I asked my athletic director if it was okay for me to play with the girls because of my transition and he said that it was fine,” Galeas revealed. 

According to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) policy, all students should have the opportunity to participate in CIF activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records.

It is written in CIF’s policy not to discriminate on the basis of disability, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation in its athletic programs and related activities. Additionally, the CIF stated that student-athletes should not be asked for proof of gender. 

The CIF has stated that it is aware of the situation and is waiting to learn more information from both schools.

“My school and everyone else has been supportive of my journey and everything and this incident did impact me when it was fresh. But now I realize that it happens and it’s life,” Galeas commented. “It’s whether or not you wanna keep going and pushing. And I am, but I’ll also make sure I’m a voice to people who can’t be.”

Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at victoria@southkernsol.org.