Following outcry from parents, a Wisconsin high-school cheerleading team will no longer give awards like “Big Booty” and “Big Boobie” to its teenage members, the New York Times reports.
Up until last year, coaches at Tremper High School’s annual cheerleading banquet would give denigrating, body-based awards — some of which were sexual in nature — to its cheerleaders. “We love her butt — everybody loves her butt,” a coach said of the girl who received the “Big Booty” award, per video from the event obtained by the Times. Another award was “String Bean,” which in 2018 was given to a freshman who coach Patti Uttech told school administrators “was so light and skinny.” And, according several parents at the banquet, the coach who gave out the “Big Boobie” award joked that the recipient’s breasts were so large, they could give her a concussion while she ran.
One of the first to raise a flag with administrators about the awards was former track coach Patti Hupp, who told the Kenosha News that she vocalized her concern in a separate emails to principal Steve Knecht and Utech after an upset parent reached out to her. Hupp was just one of four to people to contact the principal.
“I’m disgusted with the cheer coaches and with the Kenosha parents that sat there and said and did nothing,” she told the Kenosha News.
One parent even reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union, which conducted a yearlong investigation into the process and found that the awards had been given out for five years. (Per the Times, Uttech told Knecht that they only started to give out the “Big Booty” and “Big Boobie” award in 2017, and that the seniors had elected to have said awards.)
In an email on Monday, a spokeswoman for the school district told the Times that the awards were “not acceptable” and would “not to be given at Tremper cheerleading banquets going forward.” However, the ACLU believes the coaches are still using “harassing language towards cheerleaders during practices.” And though the has school apologized to the cheerleaders, Uttech is still coaching the team, despite a human-resources official’s advice to her to resign by June 14.
On Tuesday, the ACLU formally warned Kenosha Unified School District that if they “failed to take any meaningful corrective action,” the ACLU would sue.
“It’s so important that we intervene at a young age and girls are taught their worth and are treated equally,” Emma Roth, a lawyer for the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, told the Times. “When that doesn’t happen, they carry this message for the rest of their life.”