ALTOONA, Iowa --- The University of Iowa is exposed to legal challenge based on discriminatory action because the visiting team's locker room at Kinnick Stadium is pink, conveying a "sexist and homophobic" message.

Attorney Jill Gaulding, co-founder of Gender Justice in Minnesota, shared her opinion during a workshop at the Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth that drew about 800 participants.

The locker room was first painted pink in the 1980s during Hayden Fry's run as the Hawkeyes' football coach and redone in 2005.

According to Gaulding, a former tenure-tracked faculty member at Iowa, the locker room is one of a growing number of sports-related traditions that use "pink shaming" and "cognitive bias" to deride opponents. She noted a hockey club in Duluth, Minn.; a minor league baseball team in South Bend, Ind.; and the Bondurant-Farrar High School followed Fry's lead and use a pink locker room theme.

"Most people understand the pink locker room as a taunt against the other team, calling them a bunch of ladies, girls, sissies, pansie, etc.," according to information distributed by Gaulding and law partner Lisa Stratton.

The handout quoted a passage from Fry's autobiography where he said pink represented a "passive" color and might put opponents in a less aggressive mood.

Gaulding said pink is problematic when the message is conveyed by a public university that receives federal funding and is covered by rules prohibiting civil rights discrimination based on gender.

"They could be exposed to a declaratory judgment action where someone would just seek to settle the question legally and have a judge decide once and for all is this OK or not," Gaulding said.

Tom Moore, a spokesman for the university, does not agree with the analysis.

"While the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education determines compliance with Title IX, we believe we are compliant," Moore said. "The color was chosen because of the belief that it would have a relaxing and calming effect on the visiting team."

According to Gaulding, no legal challenges have ever been brought regarding locker rooms for male athletes painted pink. But she said a federal court in Arizona ruled the "shaming practices" of having male prisoners wear pink underwear is a form of punishment that lacked legal justification.

"Based on all the things that we've been talking about and what I understand are the civil rights laws that it's actually illegal to have a pink locker room because it's not OK for a public institution to potentially put out a message that people perceive to be based on a sexist or homophobic slur," Gaulding said.

Statehouse reporter for The Courier

(28) comments

2Wheelrider

Really?

reojoe
reojoe

Not to toot my own horn, but I said this back in the day when they first did it. Disgusting and serves no purpose other than feeding homophobia.

helloall
helloall

then don't toot your own horn, don't tell us you shouldn't 2nd serves many more purposes and all psychological and motivated. not sure how a color is disgusting but thats what opinions are for. as for one, why is this an issue 33 years or so later, oh wait its because society is sue first ask questions later mentality

beaverdalehawk

Not to toot your own horn? About what? Also being clueless? The pink locker room is there because Hayden Fry, the previous coach, was a psychology major. He knew that pink has a calming effect. It has NOTHING to do with homosexuality, sissies, homophobia, or anything like that. It's pink to try to gain a competitive advantage over the opponent. THAT IS ALL!!!

reojoe
reojoe

I was a psychology major too. The difference is that I can actually read and speak the language, whereas Fry couldn't (nor you).

Light blue also has a calming effect. So, if it's just an "innocent advantage," let's change the color to blue, shall we?

Dave88

Did you know Hayden Fry personally?

unigrad2008
unigrad2008

I thought you just said color is devoid of meaning Rush.

What is it?

reojoe
reojoe

Ok, folks. As long as it doesn't matter, then let's repaint the rooms to another color.

After all, it's just a color, completely devoid of meaning.

Watch these responses, folks! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

helloall
helloall

sounds like the FORMER faculty member has an issue with the University, its a color, and as for the lawsuit its all matter of interpretation. there has never been a statement that said it was anything other thena passive less aggressive color. why wouldn't an outside person file this but nope had to be someone with ties to the university. what is the true purpose for this crusade???

Lois

Really is this all people have to worry about, lets work on some important issues, who cares if a locker room is painted pink.

flip68

It's nothing more than a passive color. Hayden Fry started this and it's a "psychology thing".

cfmom1988

One of the most ridiculous and frivolous things I have heard lately. Lets find something productive to do with our time shall we?

nobodyspecial

I frequently see pro golfers wearing pink shirts and occasionally pants. What is he telling the other golfers? I'm a sissy, pansie, weak, girlish or maybe homosexual!! The comment "most people understand it's a taunt to the other team" just doesn't fly. Did she take a poll to determine that to be a true statement, or is that just her opinion? I personally don't like pink, it would make me mad and I'd leave that locker room wanting to kick some butt!!! Not because I thought it was a taunt or slur, just because the color itself is annoying.

xdfred2

Sniff.... sniff.... yep, libs bullying, trying to change things and lawyers trying to scam money. Nothing new here.

Brian B

How many teams have complained that they feel like sissies, or were discriminated against, and lost to Iowa because of the pink locker room?

reojoe
reojoe

I don't know. Why don't you tell us?

Brian B

I don't know either. If there are none, then there is no case, only whining babies.

hw77h7

Anyone who thinks this is about "a passive color to make opponents less aggressive" and nothing more is an idiot. Many colors promote tranquility and calmness more than pink does, so why pick pink?

xdfred2

Way to go! Insult everybody who's smarter than you are. Good move. Way to win the crowd.

Brian B

Where is cross when we need him?

lazycat
lazycat

I was thinking of putting up some pink tile in the bathroom, just as an accent color. Will I have to check with Jill now and get that approved?

reojoe
reojoe

Doubtful, not in your private residence.

lazycat
lazycat

You never know what's next.

Finster

So colors have genders now? maybe i should file a lawsuit over the white classrooms because they're racist.

reojoe
reojoe

Why, yes they do! Baby boys in _______________, baby girls in ______________.

Fill in the blanks.

ReoWeener
ReoWeener

Yeah, Liberal lawyer attacking a liberal college. See, they do and will eat there own!

JD Kinnick
JD Kinnick

Considering the "quality" of the organization that filed this suit...I knoiw the pink lockerroom is appropriate....

DS50613

Since when does a color insinuate sexual preferences? It IS common knowledge that the color pink is for breast cancer awareness. Let us as a society not allow the color pink to be an excuse for lame attorneys to line their pockets with $$ and bog down our court system.

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