A Wisconsin high school finds itself in turmoil over a set of awards handed out at the 2018 cheer team banquet, including both a “Big Boobie” and “Big Booty” award.
As reported by the New York Times, following on from initial reporting from the ACLU, the Tremper High School (Kenosha, Wis.) annual cheer banquet featured a series of awards for student-athletes that body shamed their appearance. The recipient of the “Big Boobie” award was told that she risked concussions when running because of her breasts. The “Big Booty” winner was celebrated because, “Everybody loves her butt.”
Meanwhile, the “String Bean” winner was lauded as being “so light and skinny,” according to Tremper cheer coach Patti Uttech.
Naturally, none of these descriptions are appropriate. And in the Wisconsin suburbs of Chicago, they apparently were the rather weighty straw that broke the camel’s back for some cheerleading parents, who then reported the school to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The ACLU in turn ruled that the school district itself was, violating federal nondiscrimination laws by, “enabling sexual harassment,” when it failed to punish the coaches involved.
Now, the ACLU is demanding that all school employees attend mandatory anti-harassment training. If they fail to do so, they’ll allegedly face a subsequent lawsuit from the ACLU.
The ACLU has plenty of backers in its corner, too, should a lawsuit come to fruition. According to the Times, the school’s track and field coach, Patti Hupp, also complained to the Tremper principal without receiving adequate response.
“I feel that I need to tell you this for the protection of these girls,” and explained that it did not take “much to see that this is extremely degrading to women.”
“It was disturbing that the principal treated it like it wasn’t that big of a deal,” Ms. Hupp, who now coaches in Indiana, said in an interview. She added, “I wanted to stand up for those women athletes who shouldn’t have been paraded in public like that.”
Hupp’s comments are both reasonable and responsible, unlike the awards in the first place. And while the coaches responsible were supposed to resign after sending apology emails to the recipients of the awards, they allegedly failed to acquiesce to the resignation portion of that arrangement and are still leading the program.
As if a more clinic voice was needed to codify that the awards were damaging, the Times spoke to a clinical psychologist who provided precisely that.
“It skywrites that the person giving out the award is objectifying the teenage girl’s body, and isn’t seeing her as a whole person or an athlete but someone to be measured and rated based on appearance,” Lisa Damour, who wrote the best-selling book “Untangled,” a guide to raising teenage girls, told the Times. “When we talk about how girls look, we’re not talking about what girls can do.”