Not So Toxic: Male Christian Wrestler Forfeits State Championship Spot Rather Than Wrestle Girls

An 18-year-old high school wrestler in Colorado has given up a potential spot in the Colorado high school state championships because he chooses not to wrestle two young ladies saying it violates how he was raised to treat women.


Brendan Johnston of The Classical Academy in Colorado says those values — despite some light complaints from at least one of the young ladies he would have faced — are informed by his Christianity and, after a discussion with his coach and some deep thought on the subject, he’s decided to stand behind his principles despite knowing it would mean a shortened competition.

“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,” said Johnston, who identifies as Christian and said he attends the International Anglican Church in Colorado Springs. “And a part of that does come from how I was raised to treat women as well as maybe from different experiences and things.”

Johnston, who has never wrestled a girl since he picked up the sport in seventh grade, has said that the physical aggression required in wrestling isn’t something he’s comfortable showing toward a girl, on or off the mat. He declined to wrestle [Senior at Skyview High School Jaslynn] Gallegos in the first round of the state tournament in the Class 3A 106-pound bracket. He then decided to forfeit against Angel Rios, a junior at Valley High School, in the third round of consolations, effectively ending his high school wrestling career.

At least one of the ladies he would have faced has interpreted Johnston’s decision as something that holds her back as a female competing in the sport of wrestling, despite the fact that he is the one who will forfeit and end his wrestling career early while she will continue on in the competition.


“This whole time that I’ve wrestled, it’s just me trying to prove a point that I am just a wrestler,” said Gallegos. “And so the fact that my gender is something that kind of holds me back still is just a little nervewracking, but I respect his decision. It’s fine.”

Johnston has tried to counter the notion that his decision not to wrestle the two young ladies is not born of a myopic gender bias, but is about recognizing the differences between the sexes — implicit is the idea that he may have an advantage — and deciding not to capitalize on those differences.

“I don’t think that I am looking at them as not equal,” Johnston said of Gallegos and Rios. “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.”

What’s most remarkable about this story is that it comes on the heels of another high-profile, gender-related high school sports story, one that involves two young biological males who identify as female breaking records and beating all biological females they compete against in track competitions in Connecticut.

Those two athletes, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, were not quite as chivalrous in their assessment of how other athletes — in this case biological girls who report feeling “demoralized” by the knowledge they would lose before the race even began — felt about the controversy surrounding their competition.


“I have learned a lot about myself and about other people through this transition. I always try to focus most on all of the positive encouragement that I have received from family, friends and supporters,” Yearwood said. “I use the negativity to fuel myself to run faster.”

“One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better,” she said. “One sprinter could have parents who spend so much money on personal training for their child, which in turn, would cause that child to run faster.”

Makes one wonder just who exactly the toxic males actually are.


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