HOUSTON — A Spring Branch ISD high school student who said she was reprimanded for working out in a sports bra while male athletes practiced shirtless is speaking out.
The girl is a student at Spring Woods High School and is on the girl's cross-country and track teams. KHOU 11 News chose to conceal her identity since she's a minor and is worried about possible retaliation.
"I saw a couple of the guys running without their shirts on -- on campus and off campus -- and they weren't being told anything. So, I took off my shirt, obviously, and I got in trouble for it," the teen said.
She said after she complained about the gender discrepancies between boys and girls, she was denied an award that's a "critical credential for college applications and recruiting," according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
She also objected to what she called "unequal coaching and training of the girls’ cross-country team."
"It's a lot more than a sports bra because it really was only towards the women on the team than it was to the guys, especially because of my race. Since I am the only Black cross-country and distance runner on the track teams," the teen said.
The girl is a junior and said she was disciplined for wearing a sports bra while she was working out in 100-degree heat. She claims she had the best performance record on the team and was the only student-athlete to have never missed a practice.
According to the teen's dad, the district told them they found no wrongdoing. Now, the family is in the appeal process.
"This whole situation could have been easily resolved," the teen's father said. "I'm willing to take this as far as we have to go, you know, to get some kind of results."
The ACLU sent a letter to SBISD on behalf of the student, warning the district that the actions potentially put them in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX. Click here to read the letter.
The teen and her father want to see real changes.
"I'm hoping to see that the district changes their policy and that they have a change of heart of what they've been saying," the teen said. "And, like, they actually own up to their mistakes."
The teen said her teammates have been supportive of her, and she's thankful for that. She also said she still loves the sport and that she is not giving up on speaking up for herself and others like her.
Here's a statement issued by Spring Branch ISD:
"Spring Branch ISD denies any discrimination and treats students equally and fairly. We are aware of the situation with one student at one of our high schools who is dissatisfied with SBISD practices, which are applied to all athletes at that campus. SBISD is currently investigating this matter."
The ACLU of Texas released this statement and said it invited the district to meet:
"ACLU decided to support G.H.'s advocacy because the District's dress code is discriminatory on its face, setting restrictions for girls that it doesn't for boys based on harmful and outdated gender stereotypes. Also, the Spring Woods High girls' cross country team has been treated unequally in terms of coaching and training, which signals to girl athletes that they are not seen as serious athletic competitors with serious potential. And as our clients so bravely shared, we got involved because G. H. was being mistreated for speaking out on behalf of herself and her teammates. We sent our letter to the District on March 1 and we have invited the District to meet so that we can work together on these very serious issues."