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Houston Breakthrough, February 1977
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Houston Breakthrough, February 1977 - Page 4. February 1977. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. March 27, 2015. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4451/show/4433.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1977). Houston Breakthrough, February 1977 - Page 4. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4451/show/4433

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, February 1977 - Page 4, February 1977, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed March 27, 2015, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4451/show/4433.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, February 1977
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1977
Description Vol. 2 No. 2
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Texas
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 21 page periodical
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 4
File Name femin_201109_525d.jpg
Transcript Houston women challenge sexism of Parks director Women in Houston are growing increasingly critical of George Lanier's leadership in the City's Parks and Recreation Department. Women challenging that leadership have included a Chicana women's rights group, a former City Parks and Recreation employee and, most recently, women athletes in the City's recreation programs. LasMujeres Unidas, a Chicana women's rights group, collected nearly 5,000 signatures last year on behalf of three Chicana artists who were commissioned by the City's Parks and Recreation Department to paint a mural in Moody Park. A disagreement ensued between the artists and Lanier over whether the mural was to be a permanent or temporary installation. Artist Yolanda Castellon maintained that the real issue was the theme of the mural. "Lanier turned down our first sketches because they were too one-sided'. They only showed the struggle of women. He said they didn't represent the people." [See Breakthrough March 7976.] In another case, Beth Kendrick, an employee in the City's Parks and Recreation Department filed an EFOC suit against Lanier and the City, charging sex discrimination in the department's hiring policies. Now women in the City's soccer and basketball teams are charging Lanier's "indifferent and uninspired" leadership for the lack of attention given the City's recreation program. [Both stories follow.] Together, all of these women have called into question the influence of Lanier's self-proclaimed chauvinism on the direction of the parks and recreation program. It was Lanier, after all, who not only requested to have the Confucius statue with the sexist inscription placed in a city park, but offered to build a pagoda around it. By Janice Blue and Jan Cunningham Kendrick Suit "I'm a male chauvinist pig and I usually don't compliment a woman, but this little gal is really as good as a man." "This was his way of introducing my supervisor, Ann Lower (then the assistant director of the department), to more than a thousand children attending the opening of the Fun Company (a summerCity Parks program) back in 1975," said Beth Kendrick, a former employee of the City's Parks and Recreation Department, of George Lanier. "I was appalled. I kept thinking of the impression he made on the children and wondered why he chose to demean her." Kendrick was then a new employee in the Fun Company program. She worked the next summer in the performing arts division. "It was common to hear him walk around the office bragging about his chauvinism and making sexist remarks and jokes," she recalls. "Numerous times I wanted to confront him," Kendrick says, "but people told me to forget it — to overlook it. 'That's just George!' they kept saying." In the summer of 1976, Kendrick was going back to school and applied for a part-time job in one of the parks. She was told by the department's personnel office that the only jobs available were "men's jobs". Beth Kendrick reported the situation to Dr. Nikki Van Hightower, the City Women's Advocate, in early September and Van Hightower took the complaint to Lanier. A heated meeting ensued. According to Van Hightower, Lanier informed her that, regardless of the law, there were jobs that he considered to be male jobs, that these were jobs that he felt women would not want, that he had male work crews that would not work with women and further, that there were no restroom or locker facilities for women and he was not going to use his budget to provide these facilities just so women could be employed. Van Hightower told Lanier that there were no jobs in the city that were "male jobs", that any jobs should be open to females and further, that he should not take it upon himself to decide what jobs females would or would not want. She maintained that "facilities should be provided for females as Well as males and if there were men who could not bear the thought of working with women, that was their problem — not the problem of women." Lanier replied, "Well, I'm just a male chauvinist pig!" Van Hightower said, "As far as I am concerned, this statement puts the whole matter into perspective!" The next day (Sept. 10), the City Women's Advocate reported this meeting to the Mayor's Office in a memo. A copy was sent to Lanier, who fired off a reply to Van Hightower, denying all sex discrimination charges within his department. He called their conversation about alleged discrimination in the Parks Department "at most, entertaining". Lanier began, "My dear Dr. Van Hightower There is no discrimination nor are there 'male only' jobs in the Parks Department, and I said that to you. A check of the hiring record will indeed verify this. Your emotional outburst at my light- hearted remark of 'male chauvinism' was judged to be a knee jerk reaction on your part. "Had I known at the time of your sensitive feelings for those words, I would not have used them. On my part, the incident was closed and was dismissed as a bad joke to one who is overly aroused and does not have a sense of humor." Neither Van Hightower nor Beth Kendrick regarded his attitude as humorous. Beth Kendrick and the Women's Equity Action League filed an EEOC suit against Lanier and the City Parks and Recreation Department, charging sex discrimination in their hiring practices. Van Hightower made it clear in the memo that she was addressing "males in management authority". Lanier was not singled out, although the timing of the memo might seem to implicate him. Lanier insists the Kendrick incident was a combination of "miscommunications and misinterpreting intent." He stated this in a letter dated Oct. 12. Lanier's explanation was that a low ratio of males employed in the recreation area, coupled with a need expressed by some community leaders to staff more parks with men, may have been interpreted as a request to hire more males. In his letter, Lanier talked about a visit from a neighborhood leader who proposed a solution to the park problems in his area. He requested that "the females presently at the site be supplemented with males so that order and security can be re-established at the park." Lanier emphasized that "replacing females was not an alternative," but that the department hoped to achieve "a balanced male-female staff" at park sites. The Kendrick suit is pending. J.B. Recreation Program George Lanier's official title as a City of Houston employee is Director of Parks and Recreation. To women involved in the City's recreation program it appears that Lanier's overriding interest is the parks department. "Recreation is left to fend for itself," said Marion Coleman, a sponsor and coordinator of women's basketball and Softball teams. Coleman and others point to the outdated equipment and inadequate facilities offered by the City to athletes in the recreation program as evidence of Lanier's "one-sided" operation of the department. On the other hand, they make note of the fact that Lanier is trying to persuade the City to purchase the Sharpstown Coun- GEORGE LANIER try Club and Golf Course. Lanier himself has acknowledged that the City could not afford the asking price ($6 million) but he said he was hopeful "private donations" could be solicited. The City already owns five public golf courses, three of which are so poorly maintained that club house facilities are non-existent. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for two women's soccer teams in the city had to go before City Council recently in order to get the use of city fields for their practice sessions. "Both teams were sharing one practice field and even then a men's rugby team shoved us off the field each time," said Odelia Mendez, one of the soccer league players. Her teammate, Karen Soren- son, took the issue before City Council,pointing out to them a 60 percent growth of women's soccer over the last year. The women's teams were given an hour a week on Monday and Wednesday evenings. The men were given a proportionate share. They have 80 teams, 24 of which request field time. The women's soccer league has eight teams, two of which request practice fields. The men's rugby team acquired a new, lighted field yet the women claim they continue to practice on the soccer field during the times assigned to their teams. "No one is doing anything about it," says Mendez. "The men get what they want. We have to take what we can." "That a women's soccer league exists at all is no credit to the City," says Becky Pitner, a player in the women's league. "It was formed by the women themselves and is run by the City Soccer Association which has nothing to do with the City's Recreation Department." Women in the basketball league voice another set of problems. Eight women's teams paid the City $200 apiece to play in the City's basketball league. In return the City provides them with a league schedule, a place to play and officials. The City placed the league in Pershing Junior High School, "A small and poorly maintained facility" which the City rents from HISD for $60 a night. The teams play one game per week and each game lasts one hour. The officials assigned to the City are paid $7.50 per game. "They were totally unqualified," says Merryl Leatherman, a player in the women's basketball league. Leatherman and Coleman discovered that the officials assigned by the City to referee women's games have had no training, have taken no tests and were members of no official refereeing body. For a $5 fee they received a striped shirt and a whistle. The women's teams wrote the City demanding the removal of the officials and it was only when one team threatened to withdraw from the league that the City finally removed one of the referees. Leatherman and Coleman persisted in taking up this case with the personnel department in the City's Parks and Recreation Department when the remaining unqualified official continued to turn up to referee games. "We were told nothing further could be done," Coleman said. A week later this official told her "just go to the City and try to get my shirt removed." None of the women's basketball teams are allowed to use city facilities for their practice sessions. Some teams rent space from the Downtown YWCA. Others go to the Magnolia YWCA. "In the end," Odelia Mendez says, "it's the women (at the Yj who have been the most helpful." The City Women's Advocate says she receives a number of calls in her office from women complaining about the poor facilities in the recreation department and the harrassment from other male players. Dr. Nikki Van Hightower says, "I have received the distinct impression that the recreation programs in this city are geared for men — not women," J C. Houston Breakthrough • February 1977 • Page 3