FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH)– Leveling the playing field in the game of social media.
Colleen Phelan says her daughter and teammates on the Fairfield Ludlowe Girls Swim and Dive team last year would get discouraged when they would look at the Athletic Department’s Twitter feed.
“They felt like the Athletic Department and the school didn’t care,” said Phelan. “If you don’t acknowledge kids hard work, it’s very disempowering. Especially for a girl. They really don’t get the attention and that doesn’t make girls want to be in sports.”
So she took her concerns last year to school officials with graphs in hand showing the disparity.
“I really was surprised that this wasn’t fixed in one moment,” said Phelan.
Her daughter graduated, but she still kept tabs. The next swimming season?
“I took a look at the Twitter feed and the Instagram feed again and nothing had changed and that was the straw that broke the camels back,” said Phelan.
So, she wrote an article in the local paper. Now, the district launched a Title IX investigation.
Superintendent of Fairfield Public Schools, Michael Cummings wrote:
“Because we are in the midst of the investigation I think it best that we hold off on any interviews for now.
On behalf of the Fairfield Public Schools I will state that we take this concern very seriously and will conduct a full investigation. We value the contributions of all of our students equally. If there are lessons to be learned from the past we will identify those and make sure that all of our staff has the necessary information and training to ensure equity for all students.”
“I think they’re going to make the right decisions now,” said Phelan.
She says the feed seems more balanced these days but would like to see policies in place.
“It’s really simple. Policies and procedures can fix this just having a format to report success of all of our athletes will make the biggest difference of all,” said Phelan.
She says since she wrote the article, she’s heard from other parents across the state and country who says this is a problem at their schools. I reached out to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference on this who says it’s up to the local districts to determine policies like this.
Cummings says they don’t have a specific policy for the Athletic Department’s Twitter feed, but they have a social media policy for all staff.
You can view that by clicking here.