SETX does allow 7-12 to participate simply because the 7th grade is where UIL activities begin for children in Texas. While you wont be seeing any 7th graders scrimmaging the varsity football team, our sport is unique in that size, age, and sex play very little in the abilities of an angler.
In fact, of the 20-25 tourneys that have been been put on by SETX in the past 4 years, I would venture to say that at least 8-12 of those tourneys have had at least one team member from the 7th or 8th grade levels in the top 3, including several 1st place finishes. I am not saying one way is better than the other, just stating facts.
If you live in a district that does not allow these children to participate, the solution is rather simple, start your own club. "Plano Junior Anglers Club" for example. Whether you do it through the school or privately, a responsible, committed adult is the key to getting going. The only advantage a school offers is convenience (everyone is there and its easy to meet),a name and maybe a tax exempt status for your club. It's not like they can help monetarily because the sponsorships and fund raising would be exactly the same either way. Another idea is to go through your local bass club and simply create a junior wing of the club.
While the sport has seen astronomical growth across the state, the sport is still not "mainstream" in our schools and school administrators fear the "unknown", it's human nature to avoid what we don't know much about, hence the reluctancy of many school admin's to allow a club period, much less junior high kids. That is where a knowledgeable adult can step up and help educate the schools admin's about the sport, its growth, and it's positive effect on kids. Its all about educating them!! 4 or 5 years ago, there were not many people who could do that, now there are literally thousands.
There are folks with SETX and THSBA and various other organizations who are happy to educate folks on their organizations. All it takes is someone to ask them.
Aren't they all "reaction" bites?