Taking a Stand
Outraged parents of the teens contacted the American Civil Liberties Union following the ceremony, saying they were dissatisfied with the response from school administrators.
On Tuesday the group sent a formal warning to the Kenosha Unified School District that it may file a lawsuit saying that the district had “failed to take any meaningful corrective action” in the case.
According to the A.C.L.U., the coaches had continued to make inappropriate comments to the girls, including using “harassing language towards cheerleaders during practices.” The group said the district was enabling sexual harassment and in doing so was violating federal nondiscrimination and equal protection laws.
The district has been asked to appropriately discipline the cheerleading coaches, and to institute mandatory anti-harassment training for all district employees. Failure to do so will result in the organization filing a lawsuit.
“It’s so important that we intervene at a young age and girls are taught their worth and are treated equally,” said Emma Roth, a lawyer for the A.C.L.U. Women’s Rights Project. “When that doesn’t happen, they carry this message for the rest of their life.”
In an email sent out on Monday, school district spokeswoman Tanya Ruder said that “a clear expectation has been set that awards of this nature are not acceptable and are not to be given at Tremper cheerleading banquets going forward.” She added, “As far as the investigation, we are not at liberty to share personnel matters.”
The mother who initially made contact with the A.C.L.U. to ask for its help said she simply wanted “these girls to be treated with respect. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.”
Tremper High will hold this year’s cheerleading banquet next month, according to a coach’s note to the team on Sunday. Only cheerleaders and coaches — no parents — are invited.