MILWAUKEE (AP) — The superintendent of a Wisconsin high school district has outlawed cheerleading awards that objectify students’ bodies and ordered mandatory staff training on discrimination and harassment.
Dr. Sue Savaglio-Jarvis said in a letter Monday to all principals and administrators in the Kenosha Unified School District that “mock awards of any such kind” are prohibited.
“It is important for you to remember that student discrimination and harassment takes many forms,” Savaglio-Jarvis said in the letter, specifically citing “awards given at a student athletic banquet.”
The letter is a response to revelations last month that coaches at Tremper High School were annually giving awards to girls with the largest breasts or buttocks. The awards would have names like “Big Booty” and “Big Boobie” and were part of a banquet meant to honor the most improved or hardest-working cheerleaders.
The high school said it would stop the awards after the details surfaced. But the superintendent’s letter is a district-wide order and warns faculty they will be disciplined or fired if they harass students or fail to report harassment.
“It is imperative that you make clear to the faculty and staff, whom you supervise, that you will not tolerate actions that constitute student discrimination or harassment,” the letter said.
The awards revelation followed a yearlong investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union in Wisconsin . It found the awards were handed out at a banquet attended by about 100 people, including coaches, family members and friends of students.
Eventually, parents and some staff complained and Tremper Principal Steve Knecht launched an investigation but said there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Knecht told a parent in a letter that the awards “were meant to be funny” and that the coaches were “just joking around.”