NY high school track team SUSPENDS girls after petition to wear sports bras instead of shirts
A New York high school has suspended members of its track team after girls campaigned to train only in their sports bras, rather than a traditional running vest.
The girls, all students at Albany High School, asked last week to train in their lycra crop tops, pointing out that boys were allowed to train topless.
Albany ISD athletic director Ashley Chapple felt it was inappropriate.
Jordan Johnson, one of the girls, said, “On Wednesday, he confronted us about wearing sports bras and said we can’t (just) wear sports bras because we have male trainers,” Johnson said.
‘She said that before and said working out is a distraction. We have to cover up because there are male trainers around here.’
On Thursday, when they continued training in the same clothes, Chappele asked the girls in sports bras to leave the session.
Members of the Albany High School track team asked to be allowed to train in their sports bras, but were suspended as a result.
They complied, but Johnson, a sophomore sprinter, started an online petition to allow the team equal rights to children.
“Stop gender-biased dress codes: Let the girls’ track team wear sports bras,” Johnson titled the petition, which has 3,450 signatures as of Wednesday night.
“Athletic administration staff are attempting to exclude us from our sport as a result of misunderstanding the dress code,” Johnson wrote.
“We are being punished for practicing in sports bras in the presence of male coaches, while the men’s team was kindly asked to put their jerseys back on and was not punished.”
After Thursday’s incident, some of the girls attended a school lacrosse game later that afternoon to watch the game.
Three security guards and Chapple were waiting for them and said they couldn’t make it.
On Friday, 13 members of the track team were suspended, and on Saturday each suspended athlete was handed a letter explaining their suspension, written by Chapple.
The letters accused the girls of using vulgar language during their exchange at the lacrosse game.
Johnson, Kayla Huba and Alexis Arango, all members of the track team, said The Times-Union that obscene language was not used.
“We talk loud, but we don’t swear,” Arango said. ‘Nobody was cursing. We were noisy because we were outside.
The girls wanted to be able to train in their sports bras with no tops on, pointing out that the boys were training topless.
“Nobody said anything bad,” he told the newspaper. “Voices may have been raised, but no vulgar language was spoken.” Johnson said.
Albany School District Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams said the suspension was due “to inappropriate and disrespectful behavior toward an administrator.”
She added: ‘His suspension was in no way locker room related. It was totally related to her inappropriate behavior and in line with our Student Code of Conduct.
‘We addressed the issue of practice attire with male and female members of the Albany High athletic teams last week. The information communicated to both groups of student-athletes was the same: that their practice attire did not align with our Student Code of Conduct.’
Arango and Huba said the school’s principal, Jodi Commerford, told them Monday that the team members were suspended because of the sports bras and for trying to attend the lacrosse game.
Ashley Chapple, director of athletics at Albany High School, took issue with girls training in sports bras.
“She went back and forth between the sports bra and us showing up to the game,” Arango said.
The letters sent home to each suspended athlete by Chapple said in the last paragraph that each girl ‘presents a continuing danger to persons or property or a continuing threat of disruption to the academic and athletic process.’
Arango told the newspaper: ‘Are we a danger to people or property and a continuing threat? That makes no sense at all.’
Rosario Balarin, Arango’s mother, said she was initially taken aback by her daughter’s insistence on training in a sports bra.
But after seeing the letter sent to his daughter and the wording issued by Chapple, he fully supports what the team did.
“I found the language in the letter very disconcerting just for the fact that they say my daughter is a danger to the school and the team,” Balarin said.
“I find that incredibly disconcerting because I have never had any problems or challenges with her during her school career.
“The vibe I got from talking to Miss Chapple was one of being personal right now with the girls. [more] how professional This is a very sad and unfortunate situation.’
Huba told the newspaper that he believes they were punished for the petition.
“I think it’s because we tried to defend ourselves,” he said.
‘(Chapple) just wants to be right. She doesn’t want to hear what we have to say.
‘That’s why she didn’t listen to us and laughed throughout the meeting. She is not taking this seriously. For me, this is all about power.
“She also stated in her letter that we argued with her in practice, which is not true.”
Since then, all but one of the students has had their suspension lifted. The school said it will hold discussions with students about the suitability of the sports team.