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ACLU condemns awards objectifying cheerleader’s bodies at Kenosha school

Posted at 6:42 PM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 19:42:11-05

A Kenosha High school has ended an annual banquet after the American Civil Liberties Union found specific awards were given to cheerleaders based on physical attributes.

Asma Kadri Keeler said she graduated from Tremper High School. She is also a staff attorney with ACLU of Wisconsin.

"Saying that I’m disappointed is an understatement. I went to this high school. I can’t believe that not only would my old school district engaged and allow this type of behavior but that it was swept under the rug that it wasn’t taken seriously," said Keeler.

"In no universe is it a joke for an adult to comment on a minor’s body and I think people who say that it’s just a joke I don’t know what else to do," Keeler also said.

The ACLU wrote that students in the past have left practice in tears, feeling ashamed of their bodies because of the coaches' comments. They said some students quit the squad.

The ACLU said the cheer awards are an example of the district's culture of sexual harassment and their unwillingness to address it. The letter also addressed an incident at Bradford High School in late 2018. After students watched an educational video on sexual assault they received a worksheet asking what the victim could have done differently to prevent the attack.

Critics said the question promoted victim blaming. KUSD pulled the worksheet.

Kenosha Unified School District released the following statement about the Tremper awards:

"In regards to the Tremper incident, 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. As for the investigation, we are not at liberty to share personnel matters."