ACLU, Softball Coach Fighting KCMO Over Access to Fields
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Girls softball coach Matt Scanlon says that the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Department has unfairly benched his team, and now he and the American Civil Liberty Union are fighting back over what they claim is unequal treatment that favors boys over girls.
According to a complaint filed on Thursday with the Missouri Human Rights Commission, the ACLU claims that girls’ softball teams are being shut out from playing on public fields in Kansas City.
The ACLU alleges that the Parks and Recreation Department discriminates against girls by contracting with a boy’s baseball club for exclusive use of athletic fields in the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods.
In its complaint, the ACLU also alleges that the manager of four girl’s softball teams in south Kansas City applied for permits to play on city fields, but was told that he, “could not have the permits…because of a long-standing contract between the city and the baseball club.”
“They said ‘No, I’m sorry these are long standing contracts we’ve had, and you’re not going to be able to get on these fields,’” said Scanlon, who says that his softball league was offered the use of other fields, which he says were much further away, in bad shape or just simply inadequate.
Doug Bonney of the ACLU says that the city’s contract with a boy’s baseball league is against the law.
“They give exclusive use from April to the end of July, and tell everyone else ‘Sorry no fields for you’,” said Bonney. “The city cannot discriminate on the basis of sex in its public accommodations, and that’s what it’s doing.”
Scanlon says that he would like the city to offer just one of their nicer fields exclusively for girls use.
“I think that would be a good start,” said Scanlon.
The KCMO Prosecutors Office said that it cannot respond directly to the complaint yet because they haven’t seen it, but in a statement said, “The City`s Parks and Recreation Department provides many opportunities for youth throughout the City regardless of gender and makes a solid effort at scheduling a limited number of recreational resources as it works with a wide range of schedules and activities.”