KENOSHA, Wis. — The ACLU is going after a Wisconsin school district. They say coaches sexually harassed and body-shamed members of a cheerleading team, and it is just a small piece of a much bigger issue.
At a place devoted to learning, the ACLU is alleging students are learning what not to do. "The district needs to take action to make the school is a safe place for all students," ACLU staff attorney Asma Kadri Keeler told WITI.
Keeler is one of three ACLU employees who signed a lengthy letter issued to the Kenosha Unified School District on Tuesday over a Tremper High School cheer banquet last March. "There were three body-shaming awards given out and they were titled 'the big booby strobe award' for the girl with the biggest breasts, 'the biggest booty award' for the girl with the biggest buttocks and the 'string bean award' for the skinniest girl," said Keeler.
The letter says parents and another athletic coach contacted the Tremper principal, saying: "I don`t think it takes much to see that this is extremely degrading to women."
The same coach sent another letter to the cheer coach, according to the documents. They say the cheer coach responded saying: "I honestly don`t feel that I need to explain myself... Actually we have ran it this way for years and have never had a problem."
The ACLU claims the Tremper principal investigated and found the coaches did nothing wrong. "To say that there is no evidence of wrongdoing ignores the fact that those testimonials are evidence of wrongdoing," said Keeler.
In an email to a parent, the ACLU claims the principal dismissed the discrimination as "meant to be funny" and "just joking around."
"When you have girls as young as 14 on this team, to say that calling someone up in front of hundreds of people and calling attention to her breasts, her buttocks, her frame and saying that's a joke is more than inappropriate, it's likely against the law," said Keeler.
The district issued a statement saying: "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."
The ACLU says they're exploring all legal options, depending on how the district responds. The ACLU also said this isn't the only issue they're investigating.
At another high school in Kenosha, it was reported that students watched a movie and then got a worksheet asking what a woman could have done to avoid a sexual assault. The district says it's not using that worksheet anymore.