The Albany School District discriminated against girls who wore sports bras during track and field trials

ALBANIA – The Albany City School District has applied its dress code in a discriminatory way that may have violated the United States Constitution when it disciplined students who wore sports bras during track and field trials, the New York Civil Liberties wrote Thursday. Union in a letter to the district.

NYCLU asked the district to change its dress code and cancel the suspensions granted to 13 athletes last month.

“District officials appear to have discriminatively imposed the dress code against female athletes – and particularly black and other black girls – in a way that reinforces racist stereotypes of race and sex potentially in violation of the Fourteenth and First Amendment. to the United States Constitution, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments and corresponding state and local constitutional and statutory protections, ”the NYCLU wrote. In addition, the athletic suspensions by the Athletic Student District for wearing sports bras and speaking out against its dress code may run counter to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding protections in the New State Constitution. York “.

In a written statement, Albany Schools Superintendent Kaweeda Adams said the students were not punished for wearing sports bras, but for their “inappropriate behavior” after being told to wear T-shirts.

“None of the student-athletes involved in this matter have received an athletic suspension because of their clothing, or because they have expressed disagreement with parts of our Student Code of Conduct that refer to the dress code,” he said.

Among the issues cited by NYCLU is that boys exercised shirtless while girls wore sports bras. According to the students, only girls were told to wear T-shirts until they complained it was unfair.

“Up until this incident, boys were routinely allowed to practice shirtless. When girls exercised wearing their sports bras to prevent heat exhaustion and maintain comfort on a hot day, they were disciplined, “NYCLU wrote.” Although school officials attempted to enforce a similar rule on boys after the fact, the boys were given a chance that the girls were not given: the opportunity to wear t-shirts. The girls were summarily ordered to leave the field and were not allowed to wear t-shirts or go back to training in clothes that the District found acceptable. This is a clearly disparate treatment based on sex. “

The school dress code is also wrong, NYCLU wrote. NYCLU leaders asked the district to “review its dress code to eliminate provisions that reflect and reinforce gender stereotypes.”

All “underwear”, according to the dress code, must be completely hidden by outer clothing. District officials said sports bras count as underwear.

But sports bras are “designed and commonly worn as sports outerwear during outdoor track and field trials,” the NYCLU wrote.

The students said that in the past they were allowed to wear sports bras regularly during training.

NYCLU also disputed one of the reasons given that students have to cover sports bras with a T-shirt. The school district’s athletic director allegedly said sports bras could “distract” male coaches.

“These stereotypes reflect broad and archaic generalizations about the inability of boys and men to control their sexual urges and the inability of girls to make their own clothing decisions that make them safe and comfortable,” the NYCLU wrote. “District policies and practices prioritize the freedom of boys and men from hypothetical ‘distraction’ over girls’ autonomy and physical comfort and well-being, causing female athletes to wear multiple layers of clothing despite the weather. heat to avoid controls and further disciplinary actions “.

Changes to the code of conduct, including the dress code, will be reviewed by the school board on July 7, with a vote scheduled for July 21. Student-athletes were invited to meet with the committee on the dress code issue, but did not participate, district spokesman Ron Lesko said. However, the administrators made recommendations to the committee after a meeting with the students.

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