Young athletes call for equal pay for equal work

Published: Oct. 17, 2019 at 4:43 PM EDT
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Back in July, the U.S. Women's Soccer Team chanted "equal pay" after winning the World Cup. From there, the team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit, demanding the same pay as the U.S. Men's Soccer Team. Now, a group of female athletes at Burlington High School are making sure the slogan is heard.

The Burlington High School Girls Varsity team has new jerseys with the slogan #equalpay. The Varsity Team teamed up with other local groups who support equal pay for equal work.

Our Olivia Lyons spoke with Lydia Sheeser, one of the players who said the team has been really excited to be on the campaign.

Anchor Celine McArthur: How did school officials react to the girls involving themselves with the campaign?

Reporter Olivia Lyons: Principal Noel Green says he is in favor of students using their voice and attacking goals that involve empowerment.

Celine McArthur: This is a political stance, though. Is the school going to support all political stances the students want to take going forward?

Olivia Lyons: Green said it does come with controversy and there is no black and white way to approach this. The school's focus is to guide conversations and allow students to stand up for what they believe in.

"Sometimes there is a thought if you're supporting the students you are supporting each and every cause and that's not the case. What we're trying to do is teach our students to take a stand and support a cause and to advocate a change," Green said.

He said this is a student-run campaign and he is really proud of the girls.

The Men's U.S. Soccer Team supported the women's initiative, but Sheeser said the BHS Boys Team was not always on board.

The girls team has more games under the lights, they got to borrow backpacks and got long-sleeved jerseys before the boys team. The boys questioned why they should stand behind this campaign when they aren't getting fair treatment, so the girls team explained their stance.

"We tried to show them that we aren't advocating for women just to be paid more, but we want equal pay for equal work. We want to get what we deserve for the stuff that we are doing and for the work that we are doing and they have been very supportive now," Sheeser said.

At one of their games, the boys wore their shirts under their game jerseys and showed off the slogan when they scored a goal.

Because the jerseys have the slogan, they can't wear them during their games. But the girls will be wearing them for their warmup before their home game against South Burlington High School Friday night.

Anyone can buy the jerseys. They're being sold for $25 and men have the option to pay 16% more to represent the wage gap.

Sen. Patrick Leahy and his wife, Marcelle, were seen wearing them. A few teams from UVM have bought the jerseys and there has even been interest from England and the U.S. Women's and Men's Soccer Teams.