Gender discrimination concern changes how Macomb cheers on the team

A question of gender discrimination has changed the way one local high school will cheer on the sidelines.

A parent recently questioned whether Macomb High School was up to code with the Federal Civil Rights Title IX guidelines, regarding gender equality in school athletics. It states, no person on the basis of sex be excluded, denied or subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

"We're doing the very best we can or thought we were, but as we review it and really look at the guidelines, there were areas where we could improve," Dr. Alene Reuschel, superintendent said.

That included athletics. For the most part, Reuschel said cheerleaders, dancers and the pep band performed solely for boys sporting events. That will change for the coming school year.

"The difference isn't about the number of games, it's about the venue and the fact that we want to give the same amount of attention to our girl's athletics as we did to our boys," Reuschel said.

But some of the school's cheerleaders don't see it that way.

"I just don't appreciate the fact that they didn't come to us and ask for our opinion before they made their decision," Grace Shryack, a sophomore cheerleader said.

"I think if they want girls to cheer for girl's teams they need to have a second tryout and second team, because we've already had our tryouts. We've already had our team. We've already been told what we were supposed to do, to cheer for boy's basketball, boy's football and now they're changing half way through our season what we're going to be doing," Hali Cordes, a senior cheerleader said.

Reuschel says the new guidelines will not change the responsibilities of these groups, but rather spread their enthusiasm equally amongst all teams.

As for the cheerleaders, Dr. Reuschel says their coach and the athletic director are working out which games the girls feel are most important to help the crowd with their spirit. But there will be games the girls will not be able to attend in uniform due to the fact that there is an uneven number of boys versus girl sporting events.

"I think it's Bomber tradition to cheer at all the boy's games. And I can tell you that, as many boys games that we can go to, we're going to go as a team and sit in the Bomber section," Cordes said.

"Sitting with their classmates, cheering for their teams? Of course they can do that. But are you asking me whether they can get into a uniform and cheer on their own, that's not appropriate," Reuschel said.