Sunday, October 10, 2004

Girl Wins Right to Share Locker Room With Boys

N.B. ruling opens hockey locker room to girls News Staff
Sun. Oct. 10 2004 12:46 AM ET

A 14-year-old girl hockey player has won the right to share the same locker room with her male teammates.
News Brunswick's Human Rights Commission has ruled that Brigette LeBlanc's rights were violated when she was forced to use a separate change room.
LeBlanc has been playing hockey since the age of five. Her sense of camaraderie took a hit three years ago when she was made to use a separate change room.
It felt like I was alone. I was always alone and I was the only girl on the team," she told ATV News.
While she didn't mind at first, LeBlanc realized she was missing out on important coaching tips.
Her parents asked for a change to allow her to use the same change room, but that request was denied by Moncton's minor hockey association.
The next step was filing a complaint with the provincial human rights commission, which the LeBlancs did in August 2002, when Brigette was 12. It ruled co-ed hockey team players can't be segregated.
"They don't have to feel like second-rate players and teammates," said Nicole LeBlanc, Brigette's mother. "They are there and they deserve equality. It's not a privilege to be there with the boys. It's not a privilege to be treated equally -- it's their right. And that's the way it has to be."
The ruling does come with a proviso: The boys must wear shorts at all time and girls must wear shorts and t-shirts. Showers must be taken at separate times, although many shower at home anyway.
Former coach Joe Richard endorses the changes.
"For the girl, if they get to dress in the other dressing room, they don't get to chat with the players," he said.
"And even when you have before the game, when the coach comes in and say how we going to play the game and talk about it," he said, adding female players also lose out on the camaraderie.
Bridgette is trying out for a girl's high school hockey team this year, so she may not benefit from the victory.
But her parents say it's still important because it changes the sport for future generations of female hockey players in New Brunswick.

With a report from ATV's Nicolle Carlin