Boys blocked from joining girls gymnastics teams

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HAUPPAUGE -

Two male students at Suffolk County high schools say they've been blocked from joining girls gymnastics teams at their schools because they are considered to be too good.

Commack High School sophomore Christian Berbet says gymnastics is the one thing he loves. He first got hooked on the sport at age 7, practicing flips and tumbles on a backyard trampoline.

But his school only has a girls team. When he sought an exception from Suffolk's governing body of sports, Title XI, he was denied. Berbet says he was told that he was too good to join the team.

At Connetquot High School, sophomore Liam Summers is also benched, and he says it's not fair.

"You can't use the excuse that a man is stronger than women competing," he says.

Berbet's father, Wayne, says it's in fact the opposite. "I would argue that there's a disadvantage for him. Strength doesn't really play a role in gymnastics.  It's more about flexibility," he says.

He adds that routines in girls gymnastics are different than boys, and his son would have to learn them from scratch.

Christian Berbet says there's no other sport that he's interested in. "If I couldn't do it, I don't know what I'd do," he says.

Wayne Berbet is appealing the Title XI ruling, and his appeal will be heard Tuesday.

Liam Summers' father, Scott, says he's hoping common sense prevails.

News 12 left messages seeking comment with both high schools and the executive director of Title XI.

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