Cheerleading coaches at a Wisconsin high school came under fire for allegedly subjecting students to body shaming at an awards banquet. And the incident continues to spark a debate on social media.
As originally reported by the New York Times, coaches at Tremper High School in Kenosha are accused of sexually harassing and body shaming members of the cheer squad.
The team members are as young as 14-years-old.
Tremper High School officials received complaints from parents of the cheerleaders after the team’s annual mock awards ceremony held last March.
The upset parents contacted the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) and on Tuesday the organization warned that it might file a lawsuit against the Kenosha Unified School District over the incident.
KTRK reports, during the team’s 2018 Cheer Banquet awards were given to the girls with the largest breasts or butt, some were titled “Big Boobie Strube” and “Big Booty Judy” and the “String Bean” award was given to a freshman who is the skinniest girl on the team.
According to the Times, about 100 people attended the event including several parents. In a video from the event a coach allegedly “made a joke that the girl risked a concussion when she ran because of her ‘enormous boobs.'”
The person in question also said, “We love her butt. Everybody loves her butt,” and some parents called the incident a “humiliating exercise in body shaming.”
Similar awards were also handed out in 2017.
Yet when concerned parents and a coach of another team discouraged the lead cheer coach from objectifying her squad members. The coach reportedly responded:
“I honestly don’t feel that I need to explain myself about how we ran our banquet. Actually, we have ran it this way for years and have never had a problem.”
Fox 19 reports, the ACLU claims the principal responded in an email to one parent writing:
The awards were ‘meant to be funny’ and [the coach was] ‘just joking around.’
The coach said it was meant in pure fun, however, the ACLU is calling for action against gender discrimination, body-shaming and victim blaming in the incident.
The organization claims:
“Students have left practice in tears, have felt shame about their bodies and have quit the squad due to comments made by the coaches.”
One Tremper cheer mom discussed the issue on Facebook and defended her daughter’s coach. She wrote:
As a Tremper cheer mom I can say that these coaches give up their personal time to mentor and coach these girls and they have been fabulous. I am proud to have my daughter on the team and I stand behind them 100%. These awards have always been done in good humor. I am sorry that we have now become a society where joking around is forbidden because someone may somehow become offended.
However, others said the comments were inappropriate and the student-athletes shouldn’t be treated this way. Another person wrote:
I wonder how many women read this article and had flashbacks to insecurities they had in high school…. too curvy, too skinny, flat chested, big ears, crooked teeth, big nose, attention given to some physical feature. Those weren’t happy, funny memories, were they? Do better, Tremper.
In a statement, the school district declined to discuss the details of the incident but said:
“Awards of this nature are not acceptable” and will not be given out in the future.
The ACLU is now calling for “appropriate” disciplinary action in the case.
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Tiffani is a writer for Dearly. She is from New York City. Prior to working for Dearly she covered fashion news and managed social media for various digital media outlets.