Girls are unfairly kept out of KC ballfields, ACLU says

Boys baseball club gets exclusive use of some sites, complaint to state commission alleges.

07/12/2012 12:00 AM

07/12/2012 11:13 PM

Girls softball teams are being kept from playing on Kansas City public fields, according to a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The group filed a complaint Thursday alleging that the city parks department discriminates against girls by contracting with a boys baseball club for exclusive use of athletic fields in the Waldo and Brookside neighborhoods.

“The city’s park-permitting practices favor boys sports and relegate girls sports to the back seat,” ACLU Legal Director Doug Bonney said in a statement released by the civil rights organization. “The city’s practices also discriminate against girls sports based on sex in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The ACLU’s goal is to help the city’s female athletes gain a level playing field.”

Heidi Downer, spokeswoman for the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, said officials would not comment on the pending complaint as a matter of policy.

The ACLU’s complaint was filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, which investigates allegations of discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

The complaint alleges the manager of four girls softball teams in south Kansas City sought permits this spring to play on city fields and was told he could not have permits because of a longstanding contract between the city and the 3&2 Baseball club. A parks official allegedly offered the four girls teams a permit for Friday and Saturday nights on one field in one park, the ACLU said.

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