Parenting well despite sexual descrimination

School Refuses To Let Boy Join Cheerleading Squad


POSTED: 5:11 pm EST January 9, 2008

UPDATED: 6:16 pm EST January 9, 2008

Bobby Thorn wanted to be the only boy on his school’s cheerleading squad, but that didn’t happen.The 13-year-old attends East Hardin Middle School in Glendale, but the controversial decision to cut him from the team expands beyond the district’s boundaries.Bobby’s mother filed a discrimination claim with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights two years ago, and now a settlement has been reached.

Bobby works with coach Jen Brewer at a gym called Becca’s Fliptown, something he’s been doing since he was about 5. He’s been successful, too, winning trophies for gymnastics and cheerleading.“Bobby’s phenomenal,” Brewer said. “You don’t have this kind of kid with this kind of potential walk in your gym every day.”With his award-winning experience, Bobby tried out for the cheerleading team at East Hardin, but there was a twist: He was the only boy trying to make it.

Despite his flips, his tryout was a flop. He didn’t make the team.“I was devastated,” he said.So was Bobby’s mother, Melissa Barner, who said she has sworn statements from other parents stating the coach admitted cutting Bobby because she didn’t want a boy on her team.What especially bothers her is the coach was also the school’s human resources counselor.“I teach my children not to discriminate and when he had it done at a school where he is supposed to be safe and protected, I had to protect my child,” she said.Barner took the case to the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. A settlement has been reached.In the settlement agreement, the school admits no wrongdoing but the commission has ordered mandatory training for the principal, teachers and coaches at the school.In addition, school administrators must submit an annual report to the commission for the next three years and include any additional complaints.

The school also agreed to pay $3,000 to Bobby’s mother.“It was a long process, but I knew in my heart I did the right thing for my child to tell him not to back down,” Barner said.“This settlement was made in the interest of children, to keep our staff teaching children instead of participating in a lengthy trial,” said Hardin County Public Schools representative Dick Thornton.“It felt great,” Bobby said.Since his disappointment in sixth grade, Bobby hasn’t tried out for the cheerleading squad in seventh or eighth grade, but may do it in high school.As for the woman who cut him from the team, she is no longer the cheerleading coach.Copyright 2008 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistrib

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