DISTRICT GETS TO THE BOTTOM OF WHAT’S SUITABLE
The Anchorage School District reviewed the Sept. 6 disqualification of a Dimond High School swimmer whose swim suit revealed perhaps too much for one referee who was officiating the swim meet last week.
The district interviewed several people who were at the swim meet between Dimond and Chugiak High Schools last week, and concluded that the swimmer was discriminated against because of the shape of her body. According to one account, the swimmer is very shapely, not willowy, and she was wearing a suit issued to her by the school. It showed a lot of buttocks, more than what the rules may allow.
“The Anchorage School District has concluded that our swimmer was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body. We cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and certainly not based on body shape. This disqualification was heavy-handed and unnecessary,” the district announced in a press release.
The Dimond High School coach forwarded his appeal of the swimmer’s disqualification to the District which presented the appeal to the Alaska School Activities Association on behalf of the team.
The District seeks to:
- Reverse the swimmer disqualification
- Return all points to the team
- Decertify the official
- Suspend, with the intent to revise, the NFHS suit coverage rule, as it is ambiguous and allows the potential for bias to influence officials’ decisions.
“We owe it to our student athletes to provide a fair and consistent atmosphere in which they can train and compete to their fullest potential. ASD will not tolerate any actions that discriminate, target, or otherwise create an unsafe or inequitable environment for its student athletes,” the district wrote.
“These young athletes are phenomenal competitors and their hard work, determination and grit in the pool should be an inspiration to us all. We wish our Dimond Lynx the best of luck in their meet this weekend.”
The case drew national attention, including a brief report on NBC News with Lester Holt on Tuesday.
The disqualification appears to have stemmed from an official’s interpretation of rules governing high school swim uniforms.
Immediately after the disqualification, the Dimond HS swim coach filed a protest with the official to contest the decision.
The coach’s protest was quickly denied at the meet, and he appealed it to the district.
“Because swimming and diving suit coverage rules and regulations have been an ongoing national discussion, the Dimond High School Swim Program has made deliberate efforts over the last year to ensure athletes’ uniforms meet the regulations prescribed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation,” the district wrote.
“This year, the Dimond swim team has purchased approved, team suits for every swimmer that meet the requirements put forth by the NFHS. The disqualified athlete was wearing the approved, school-issued suit during the race. In the first three meets this year, the Dimond swim team has had no disqualifications related to the wear of the swim uniform.”
The district explained that the NFHS sets the rules and regulations by which athletic competitions are conducted, and officials make decisions guided by those rules.
“However, we expect all referees and officials to conduct themselves in a manner that respects the dignity and rights of every student athlete regardless of the young person’s gender, body shape, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or disability,” the district wrote.
“We owe it to our student athletes to provide a fair and consistent atmosphere in which they can train and compete to their fullest potential. ASD will not tolerate actions by its coaches, students, staff, or community members that discriminate, target, or otherwise create an unsafe or inequitable environment for its student athletes.”