Student-athlete claims discrimination by Mukilteo district

A former Kamiak High School student has sued the Mukilteo School District, claiming that a coach prevented her from participating in out-of-season workouts and from trying out for the girls basketball team after learning she was a lesbian.

The suit, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Seattle by Keelie Shay, seeks unspecified damages for alleged gender and sexual-orientation discrimination and emotional harm by the school district.

Andy Muntz, school district spokesman, declined to comment because the issue is in litigation.

Shay later transferred to Mariner High School, where she participated in athletics, including the girls basketball team, and graduated in 2010. Shay is now 21 years old.

In 2009, Shay and her mother, Kristie Shay, filed a complaint outlining similar concerns with the state’s Human Rights Commission, alleging she was denied the opportunity to participate in sports because of her sexual orientation.

The school district responded with an 11-page letter to the commission, asserting that there was no evidence of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Rather, it said, there was stiff competition for spots on the varsity team.

In 2010, the state commission decided there was insufficient evidence to show that an unfair practice had occurred.

Shay’s attorney in the federal lawsuit, Marianne K. Jones, said the commission didn’t thoroughly investigate the case.

“They did a very, very poor job,” she said. One big error in its review of the case, Jones said, was not realizing that a senior could be permitted to play on a junior varsity team.

“She asked to participate anywhere they wanted her to participate, junior varsity or varsity,” Jones said. But the coach “wouldn’t allow her to participate at all.”

Shay began her participation in athletics as a starter on Kamiak’s junior varsity basketball team. Out-of-season practices were directed by a coach, Jody Schauer, who also directed the school’s varsity team.

In December 2008, Shay was dating another player on the team, according to the suit. Shay announced her sexual orientation when their relationship became known to other members of the team, it says.

After the coach learned of Shay’s sexual orientation, Shay no longer was a starter for the junior varsity team, her playing time was reduced and she was no longer coached as before, the suit alleges.

Shay alleges she was told by coaches that she would not be considered for any of the girls basketball teams at Kamiak High School, though the season was still eight months away.

Schauer allegedly advised Shay, then a 16-year-old junior, that if she wanted to participate on a team, she should transfer to another school.

Shay’s mother hired an attorney and negotiated her daughter’s participation in an unspecified basketball tournament. The “actions and words” of Schauer at the event “was discriminatory, abusive and bullyish,” according to the lawsuit.

Schauer was later terminated as a coach, the suit says.

The district’s actions in response to the issue was “too little and not effective,” it adds.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

5 teens in custody in drug-robbery shooting death

They range in age from 15 to 17. One allegedly fatally shot a 54-year-old mother, whose son was wounded.

Most Read