ALTOONA — The University of Iowa is leaving itself exposed to legal challenge based on discriminatory action by continuing to have a pink visitors locker room at Kinnick Stadium that jokingly conveys a “sexist and homophobic” message, two attorneys told LGBTQ conference attendees Wednesday.

Jill Gaulding, co-founder of Minnesota-based Gender Justice and a former tenure-tracked faculty member at the university, said the Kinnick locker room first painted pink in the 1980s during Hayden Fry’s run as Hawkeye football coach and later redone in 2005 is one of a growing number of sports-related traditions that use “pink shaming” and “cognitive bias” to deride their opponents and try to “get in their heads.”

During a workshop at the Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth that drew about 800 participants, Gaulding said a hockey club in Duluth, Minn., a minor league baseball team in South Bend, Ind., and now the Bondurant-Farrar High School — using money donated by a family that won a Powerball jackpot — have followed Iowa’s lead using the 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/pansies/etc.,” according to an information sheet Gaulding and Gender Justice law partner Lisa Stratton distributed to the workshop attendees.

Gaulding’s handout quoted a passage from Fry’s autobiography where he said pink was a “passive” color and might put opponents in a passive mood. “Also, pink is often found in girls’ bedrooms, and because of that some consider it a sissy color,” according to a quote Gaulding said she took from Fry’s book.

Gaulding said it’s problematic when the message is conveyed by a public university in an education setting that receives federal funding and is covered by Title IX and Title VII rules that prohibit civil rights discrimination based on gender.

“I do believe it creates legal liability — not necessarily about financial liability. To me, that’s never been what this is about,” she said. “But 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.”

University spokesman Tom Moore did not agree with the Gender Justice attorneys’ 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.”

Gaulding said that, to her knowledge, there has never been a legal challenge brought regarding locker rooms for male athletes that are painted pink but she said a federal court in Arizona ruled that a “shaming practices” of having male prisoners wear pink underwear was deemed a form of punishment that lacked legal justification.

“I think every institution that is using pink or gender as a shaming joke reinforces that idea across the entire culture and that is why it is so harmful,” Gaulding said.

“I certainly do conclude that 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,” she added. “It’s not OK for them to put up a banner that says it’s bad to be a girl. It’s not OK for them to build a pink locker room that conveys that same idea.”

(34) comments


What a waste of time, print, paper and ink.... Pursuit of stupidity and trying to change human nature by some law or legal ruling is never going to have its desired outcome. I am mad at myself for even reading the story.

Family man

Pink is a calming color. Why do homosexuals try to make everything about the fact that they are homosexual?


...In a related Times story, Conservatives accused of whining about unimportant things.


The stupidity of the PC police is astounding. The color pink has very little to do with gender. Certain colors have been found to have an impact on people. It is why "institutional green" was used to paint almost every hospital and doctors office. Pink has a subtle effect on the human psyche, or at least it was once believed to have an effect. Any weird color would probably have some kind of impact. The real effect of it was simply to throw the opposing team off just a bit. I never thought it was very effective or a good idea, but it isn't and never was about making opposing players feel feminine. Paint it any color you want, I don't care, but this stupidity of making everything about gender or racism or whatever the current fad is getting lame.

Concerned and Dismayed

This study is a gigantic waste of time and energy. The effect of painting the locker room pink is a psychological one. Colors influence mood and pink has a calming affect, it is also used in holding cells. At no point did anyone think "Lets make the other team feel like sissies." Please rededicate your time to something worthwhile and/or productive.


Funny clown


Its Hawkeyes...who cares.


Last years football team played like sissies. That was offensive. Leave the locker room alone.

M James

This is nothing less than Miss Gaulding's second attempt in six years to get people to pay attention to her. By creating an "issue" where none actually exists is just another pathetic effort on her part to get people to ascribe her some measure of leadership and authority in the LGBT community. I've been a sports fan for over forty years and this is the first time I've ever heard the terms "pink shaming" and "cognitive bias" in any circumstances, not just sports. It should evident to any clear thinking individual that the pink locker rooms were just an effort on the part of Coach Fry to mess with his opponents' heads. In the final analysis however, this is not about the color of a locker room. Miss Gaulding and her organization want to control the way people think.

Racin' Robbie

This is the epitome of "First World" problems.

pta mom

This is juvenile and sexist--Implying that to be pink like a girl = failure. A shameful and embarrassing choice of decor.


Thanks EA74 for reminding us of the reason behind the pink-painted locker room.

I know the pink locker room thing has raised a few eyebrows over the years, but this is getting out of hand. I mean, seriously – this is just a group of people out to validate something that many of us consider abhorrent.

Mrs. Gaulding is misinformed about Hayden Fry's motivation ... I mean, how long has he had this locker room painted pink? Back in the early 1980s, when the LGBTQ movement was relatively quiet. I'm sure that a few athletes who have played on teams facing Iowa have identified themselves as homosexual and a vast majority of them have never said a word ... not out of intimidation or fear but because they WERE NOT OFFENDED by it.

And yes, we know that pink isn't always effective. Just look at Iowa's record last year.

danhrn: The "Q" stands for "questioning," as in those who are questioning their sexual identity.

Ba'Rock yo Momma

Its not like they benefit from it, their spots teams are not any good, as far as all this stupid lsbian gay rights stuff, its not a rainbow, those disgusting people turned rainbows in to filth dont let them take pink too lol


I am as left wing as they come and you would be VERY hard-pressed to find someone as outspoken as I am on the need for equal rights for the LGBT community.

However, anyone who knows anything about Hawkeye FB knows that the opposing team's locker room is painted pink not as a suggestion of sexuality, weakness, or anything of the sort.

Hayden Fry was a Psych student, he learned that color can impact mood and that the color pink can have a calming effect on the pshyche, that's why the locker room is pink, to get the opposing team into a calm, subdued frame of mind before they hit the field. To suggest there is any other message or intent is just plain ill-informed.


Agreed. This is pretty dumb.


This LGBTQ b.s is getting out of hand. I'm all for equality but these people are but it's things like this that make me sick. I'm going to start a group called NEP (Normal Everyday People) and get our country back before we become the outcasts!!

senor citizen

Unfortuately, you are too late, but sign me up anyway.


This may or may not be news, but it certainly isn't new: Ms. Gaulding ranted about this before.

With luck, she will get just as far this time.


So men should no longer support breast cancer awareness which is most associated with the color pink!


Oh, so that's why it's painted pink? To inspire visitors to support breast cancer awareness? I think not!

senor citizen

The U.of Iowa is very insensitive to paint the visitor's lock room pink. Maybe lavender or a taupe and muave combination would be better.


No freaking kidding. Front page coverage on this is not shocking, since the Times is a left leaning paper, but seriously come on. Where is the tolerance for tradition? There's tolerance for everything else, why not for tradition? Also, I want to add this. The LGBTQ community can NOT reproduce! They HAVE to recruit, that is why they want validated, so that they can adopt kids and swing (pun intended) people to their cause.


Seriously? Tolerance for tradition? I have NEVER condoned grown men calling boys "girls/ladies/sissy's...." and I heard it all the time from my son's coaches. That is gender bashing plain and simple. And let's call the bs, that color was not chosen for calm. It is gender based, plain and simple. You all have mothers, very respectful....NOT! Nice try tho U of I.

senor citizen

Your son was probably a sissy.


this is plain stupidity at its best. next thing we'll have to do is put diapers on our pets.


Amazing. Would it also be sexist and discriminatory if it was painted blue--a color associated with boys?


Pink is a passive color as are several other pastels, so when is trying to get into somebody's head a legal issue, look at the Hawkeye's record it reflects that this is not 100% effective. I would think the LGBTQ (what is the Q} would be happy with the selection of color for the visitors locker room. This has given the U some noteriety, I heard about this when I was stationed in Germany. Keep PINK, real men can handle it, why can't the fake men?


here is her facebook page lets message her and see what she thinks.


Get a life, people. You have some important issues out there, and you ruin your credibility over this?

Yagotta B Kidding

Sounds to me like a couple of out of work attorneys trying to drum up some business!


There is only one thing dumber then this story and that's the Times giving it from page coverage.


That's just ridiculous. Legal issues? Proof that lawyers are just looking for some kind of "issue" to get their 15 minutes of fame putting them front and center of a stupid lawsuit.


I happen to have a hot pink necktie, is that bad to wear?

What about the NFL players wearing pink gloves, and pink cleats?

How about those pink ribbon magnets on cars?

When the loonies are in charge, this is what you get. Next thing you know, they will be mandating what our kids eat at school....


Are you kidding me? These people will stop at nothing to advance their agenda. I can not believe someone would sit around and think things like this up. The locker room is pink so the LGBTQ folks need more time in the spotlight and use this as a way to do it. How anyone could draw this conclusion is crazy. But in their quest to bring more folks to their camp they do anything to get in the news. Perhaps Blue and Pink baby clothes should be banned so as not to offend someone who might see them. Maybe they could go after stores who sell pink blankies for babies. Come on don't we have more pressing issues to deal with and spend time on that worrying about what color the visiting locker room is? Some of the toughest medical cases around are in the hospital across the street from Kinnick. How about if these folks donate some $$$ to the childrens hospital instead of spending it on garbage like making claims about a Pink locker room. This is what our society is worried about today??? The color of a locker room.

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