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A high school in the United States has made headlines for all the wrong reasons after controversially banning 13 members of its track and field team after they complained about not being allowed to practice in their sports bras.
The controversial call has seen the school receive a barrage of criticism online with angry parents and students taking to social media to have their say.
According to reports, the Albany High School girls’ athletics team got into a dispute with teachers and coaches after they chose not to wear anything over their sports bras during practice.
With the weather in New York heating up, members of the team wanted to take off their over-shirts and train in just their sports bras, just like the males athletes do when they strip down during the hot weather.
But their actions weren't well received and they were subsequently sent home from practice.
“[Albany School District Athletic Director Ashley Chapple] confronted us about wearing sports bras and saying we couldn’t [just] wear sports bras because we have male coaches,” athlete Jordan Johnson told the Times Union.
“She said that before and she said us working out is a distraction. We have to cover up because male coaches are around.”
Johnson has now started an online petition, titled: “Stop Gender Biased Dress Codes: Allow the Girls Track Team to wear Sports Bras.”
The petition itself has already garnered plenty of support with over 3,500 signatures and counting.
“Support the Albany high girls track team as we protest the gender biased dress code," the caption reads.
“The athletic administration staff is attempting to exclude us from our sport as a result of the misinterpretation of the dress code.
"We’re being punished for practising 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.”
But in the wake of the petition's launch, the school have now decided to suspend 13 members of the track team.
Reports from to the Times Union claim the athletes weren't banned for starting the petition or even speaking out, but rather because they used "vulgar language" as well as "inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour directed toward an administrator" during a dispute with a teacher.
However, some members of the team have since been reinstated following discussions with Albany High School.
“Their suspension was in no way related to wardrobe,” Ron Lesko, who is the director of communications and operations for Albany school district, said.
“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.
“As a result of Monday’s meeting, members of the girls’ track and field team have agreed to participate on the committee that reviews the Student Code of Conduct for next school year.
"That work will include a review of the sections related to student attire.”
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