Locker Room Inequity Sparks Debate About Inequality in Jesuit Sports
December 17, 2021
Women in Sports Club Focuses on Empowerment and Equity
Earlier this month, the women in sports club delivered a presentation outlining the differences between the men’s and women’s locker rooms, prompting a discussion of equity in Jesuit sports.
The women in sports club was created this year by juniors Tessa Randall, Avery Edwards, and Mason Young. Randall first discussed the idea of the women in sports club with recent graduate Lucy Menendez two years ago, but due to COVID-19 pandemic shifting school to online, the creation of the club was put on hold. After returning to in-person learning with the hope of creating the club, Randall teamed up with classmates Avery Edwards and Mason Young to bring the idea to reality. The 3 lacrosse players then asked Ms.Blumhardt, Jesuit’s Women’s Varsity Lacrosse Coach, History teacher, and Learning Difference Support, to moderate the club for them.
Ms. Blumhardt specified the club’s goals and objectives.
“Our main objective at the club is to empower each other as females but also increase the attendance and awareness of female events and sports here at Jesuit high school,” Ms. Blumhardt said.
Women empowerment is a large component of the women in sports club. The club helps all women feel supported and cared for at Jesuit High School.
“Our women’s volleyball and our women’s soccer teams are some of the best in the nation, how do we get more students out there to cheer them on? ” Blumhardt said.
The club also talks about female sports on a larger scale, discussing inequities in topics such as the United States Women’s Soccer Team and the women’s NCAA lack of equipment during March Madness.
They also discuss what it means to be a female athlete and how it differs from being categorized as a male athlete.
Locker Room Concerns
Recently, the club has been in the spotlight after a powerful presentation was delivered during a club meeting. In an October club meeting, Tessa Randall, Avery Edwards, and Mason Young hosted a workshop in which they presented a slideshow illustrating the differences between the men’s and women’s locker rooms.
Tessa Randall spoke on how the 3 leaders first recognized the need for equity in the women’s locker room.
“A female friend of mine was giving a tour during the beginning of the school year and went through the men’s locker room,” Randall said. “After seeing it, she was telling us about how different it looked from our locker room. She saw differences with the floor mats, bathroom stalls, painted walls and lockers, and the empowering quotes and words on the walls. We couldn’t believe it as we had always assumed that the men’s and women’s locker rooms were the same. We also realized that there was an apparent safety issue. The men’s locker room had traction mats covering the majority of the floors while we had none.”
They then opened it up to a further discussion where club members voiced their opinions on how the matter made them feel, possible solutions, and how we can work together to help make our school a better place.
Locker Room Investigation
With the help of my fellow journalist Noelle Furnanz, I decided to check out the quality of the men’s locker room while she inspected the women’s side. What I found seemed to corroborate the findings by the leaders of the women in sports club. In the men’s main locker room, there are two different colors of lockers alternating in either green or gold. The most eye-popping feature in the locker room was the implementation of posters and quotes. When I walked into the football locker room, I already felt the unique touch the football team put into their room. Their walls included an inspirational quote from the past 20 years and numerous art graphics on the walls.
In comparison, Furnanz highlighted the quality of the women’s locker room floors and decorations.
“The women’s locker room floors are pretty scuffed up, but they recently put down mats to protect the floors and athletes. There are two team rooms, neither decorated or painted any special color,” said Furnanz.
Athletic Director Mr. Hughes Appreciates Leadership
Because of these very real concerns and the impact of the leaders’ workshop, the 3 leaders and Ms. Blumhardt met with the administration on multiple occasions to voice their concerns and propose a potential solution. Over the past two weeks, the club leaders have had 2 discussions with the administration in which Mr. Hogan, Mr. Maxie, Ms. Hagelgans, Mr. Fennah, Mr. Hughes, Ms. Strear, Ms. Montez and Ms. Blumhardt all attended.
I spoke with our athletic director, Mike Hughes, to discuss the events of the meeting and on whether a solution has been implemented. Of the multiple topics discussed, Hughes first stressed the admiration he had for the leaders who had addressed this issue.
“We thanked them for their leadership,” Hughes said. “Part of athletics isn’t just teaching how to dribble a basketball or how to defend in lacrosse. Part of athletics is teaching values and one of those is leadership training. So the people who led the presentation are awesome. This is exactly what we want from our athletes: to show courage, to show leadership, and to advocate for their teammates. So that is number 1; we are very pleased with them.”
Hughes then demonstrated the bigger picture, outlining how Jesuit is blessed to offer such special facilities for women’s sports.
“One of the lines they used in their presentation is ‘we feel that we’re an afterthought’, and so what I tried to demonstrate is that as a whole our facilities for women at this school are remarkable,” Hughes said.
Hughes then offered how almost all Jesuit facilities used by men and women are identical besides the main men’s and women’s locker room, citing the women’s and men’s tennis clubhouse, the soccer locker rooms for men and women, the golf facilities spread by men and women, the baseball and softball facilities, etc.
“What really this came down to was the football locker room, team room A, versus the team room A on the women’s side,” Hughes said.
Hughes noted how the leaders were correct to point out some aspects of the locker room to be remodeled.
“They pointed out some changes they’d like in the locker room and they were right on,” Hughes said. “I feel horrible that we didn’t notice that the floor needs to be redone. They wanted two colors of paint in the locker room and I immediately went to our maintenance department and they are willing to do that this summer.”
The Future: Equality and Safety
In the meanwhile, quick fixes have already been implemented to better suit and create safer conditions for women athletes.
“We are happy to report that traction mats have been added to the women’s locker room and a clear plan for fixes has been developed,” Randall said.
The club plans to continue working toward advocating for equity in women’s sports.
“Our main goal for the locker rooms was to explain that we wanted to create equality between the space and the safety of both locker rooms and overall, equality between men’s and women’s facilities at Jesuit,” Randall said. “The issue wasn’t about the aesthetic or decorations of the locker rooms, it was more about advocating for equality between the actual buildings and the safety of the buildings which are things Jesuit should have equal for both sides.”
The unified goal of the club leaders and administration is to simply make Jesuit High School a better place: “We all love Jesuit, but how do we make Jesuit just a little bit better,” Blumhardt said.