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 their athletics team after the girls campaigned to be able to train in just a sports bra, rather than a traditional running vest.

The girls, all students at Albany High School, asked last week to be able to train in their lycra crop tops, pointing out that the boys were allowed to train wearing only a pair of shorts.

The athletic director for Albany school district, Ashley Chapple, felt that it was inappropriate.

Jordan Johnson, one of the girls, said: ‘Wednesday, she confronted us about wearing sports bras and saying we couldn’t (just) wear sports bras because we have male coaches,’ Johnson said.

‘She said that before and she said us working out is a distraction. We have to cover up because male coaches are around.’

On Thursday, when they continued to train in the same clothes, asked the girls in sports bras to leave the session.

Members of the Albany High School track and field team asked to be able to train in their sports bras, but were suspended as a result

They complied, but Johnson, a sophomore sprinter, began a petition online to allow the team to have equivalent rights to the boys.

‘Stop Gender Biased Dress Codes: Allow the Girls Track Team to wear Sports Bras,’ Johnson headlined the petition, which has 3,450 signatures as of Wednesday night.

‘The athletic administration staff is attempting to exclude us from our sport as a result of the misinterpretation of the dress code,’ Johnson wrote.

‘We’re being punished for practicing in sports bras in the presence of male coaches, while the boys team was asked nicely to put shirts back on and was not punished.’

After Thursday’s incident, some of the girls then turned up to a lacrosse game at the school later that afternoon, to watch the match.

Three security guards and Chapple were waiting for them, and said they could not attend.

On Friday, 13 members of the track and field team were suspended, and on Saturday each suspended athlete received a hand-delivered 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, told The Times-Union that no foul language was used.

‘We were loud, but we did not swear,’ Arango said. ‘No one was cursing. We were loud because we were outside.’

Johnson agreed.

The girls wanted to be able to train wearing their sports bras without a vest on top, pointing out that the boys were training topless

The girls wanted to be able to train wearing their sports bras without a vest on top, pointing out that the boys were training topless

‘No one was saying anything bad,’ she told the paper. ‘There may have been voices raised, but there was no vulgar language said.’ Johnson said.

Albany school district’s superintendent, Kaweeda G. Adams, said the suspension was ‘due to inappropriate and disrespectful behavior directed toward an administrator.’

She added: ‘Their suspension was in no way related to wardrobe. It was entirely related to their inappropriate conduct, and in alignment with our Student Code of Conduct.

‘We addressed the matter related to practice attire with male and female members of the Albany High track and field 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 that the principal of the school, Jodi Commerford, told them on Monday that the team members were suspended because of the sports bras, and for attempting to attend the lacrosse game.

Ashley Chapple, the athletics director for Albany High School, took issue with the girls training in sports bras

Ashley Chapple, the athletics director for Albany High School, took issue with the 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 from Chapple stated in the final paragraph that each girl ‘poses a continuing danger to persons or property or an ongoing threat of disruption to the academic and athletic process.’

Arango told the paper: ‘We’re a danger to persons or property and an ongoing threat? That makes no sense at all.’

Rosario Balarin, the mother of Arango, said she was initially baffled by her daughter’s insistence on training in a sports bra.

But after seeing the letter sent to her daughter and the wording issued by Chapple, she fully supports what the team did.

‘I found the language in the letter to be very disconcerting just for the fact they are saying my daughter is a danger to the school and to the team,’ Balarin said.

‘I find that incredibly disconcerting because I have never had any issues or challenges with her during her school career.

‘The vibe I got when speaking with Miss Chapple was one of it being personal at this point with the girls [more] than professional. This is a very sad and unfortunate situation.’

Huba told the paper she thinks they were punished for the petition.

‘I think it is because we tried to stand up for ourselves,’ she said.

‘(Chapple) just wants to be in the right. She doesn’t want to hear what we have to say.

‘That is why she wasn’t listening to us and laughing through the entire meeting. She is not taking this seriously. To me, this is all about power.

‘She also claimed in her letter that we argued with her at practice, which is not true.’

All but one of the students has since had the suspension lifted. The school said they will hold discussions with students about the suitability of the sports kit.

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