Cheerleaders at a Kenosha, Wisc., high school were forced to endure cruel and even sexually charged mocking by their coaches. Angry parents who witnessed it contacted the ACLU seeking help. In a published Demand Letter, the ACLU is asking the Kenosha Unified School District to take disciplinary action as well as steps to prevent further abuse.
According to the ACLU’s letter, members of Tremper High School cheerleading squad were the targets of their coaches’ highly inappropriate jokes during the squad’s annual awards banquet in front of over 150 banquet attendees, including family members and friends:
In addition to the more traditional awards, the Tremper coaches distributed three other awards to girls on the cheer squad that objectify their bodies during the 2018 banquet: the “Big Boobie Award” for the cheerleader with the biggest breasts, the “String Bean Award” for the skinniest cheerleader, and the “Big Booty Award” for the cheerleader with the largest buttocks. Photos and records received in response to the ACLU’s open records request confirm that the “Big Boobie” and “Big Booty” award were also distributed in 2017. Additionally, during the 2017 banquet, a member of the cheerleader squad with brown hair received a blonde wig as an award because she was deemed a “ditzy girl.” One parent told the ACLU that in prior years, the coaches made comments about the girls’ vaginas.
The letter goes on to add that “a parent reported that the coaches ‘laughed hysterically’ when handing the Big Boobie award to its recipient and made comments on the microphone about ‘what a feat’ it was that this student could maneuver through cheer routines with her ‘enormous boobs.'”
Already dealing with out-of-control hormones and changing bodies, teenage girls are almost constantly bombarded with a litany of images, lyrics, and comments that reduce them to their sexuality and that pressure them to conform to unrealistic physical expectations. Authority figures should be combatting the unhealthy expectations placed on them, not contributing to them.
What’s more, it’s not appropriate, under any circumstances, for adults (or other teenagers) to make disparaging or even sexually charged, flattering comments about the bodies of teenage girls. While it’s good that parents are attempting retroactive disciplinary action, it’s odd that the parents in attendance, especially the fathers, didn’t put a stop to it while it was happening.
If these allegations are true, the coaches involved should be fired and any school or district administrators who were aware of the coaches’ words and actions and did nothing should be disciplined. When the ACLU is the only adult in the room, there’s a problem.