N.S. mom fights daughter's exclusion from boys changeroom

HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia mother who is fighting her 12-year-old daughter's exclusion from the dressing room of her all-boys hockey team says she's willing to compromise in order to find a solution.

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Laura England, whose daughter Hailey is a goalie for the South Shore PeeWee A Ice Sharks, has launched a public media campaign against the enforcement of a policy that has her daughter dressing by herself in a separate room before games.

England, whose family lives near Lunenburg, N.S., said the team decided this year without warning that her daughter must be fully dressed before she's allowed to enter her team's dressing room. Her teammates must also be in all of their gear with the exception of their gloves and helmets.

"Two weeks ago there were three boys in the room who had everything on but their jerseys, hockey gloves and their helmets and they were sent to the bathroom because Hailey entered the room, said England.

She said the situation has made her daughter, who has always played with boys, suddenly feel like she's not part of the team.

England said while she does understand why some people would not want boys and girls dressing together at her daughter's age, there should be some leeway granted.

"Even if the boys had their underarmour and their hockey pants on," she said. "Just as long as they have their hockey pants on so she could come in the room and isn't missing out on everything."

Hailey England said hockey hasn't been as fun this season because of a rule and an issue that she wasn't expecting. She said she played at the same level of hockey last season and the dressing room wasn't an issue.

She feels she's not being treated fairly.

"I find I miss out on all the conversations in the dressing room and I'm always locked in this little broom closet, or as I think of it a jail cell," she said. "I'm bored because I'm all by myself."

Darren Cossar, executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia, said his organization's dressing room policy mirrors that of Hockey Canada's which stipulates that girls and boys must dress separately at age 11 and above.

However, he said teams do have some wiggle room under the policy as to exactly when the girl can enter the room.

"The girl still has the ability to enter the dressing room when appropriately clothed to join her teammates," said Cossar. "But basically the policy just doesn't allow (her) to walk in from the street and strip down and change."

Both the team's coach and the president of the South Shore Hockey Association did not return requests for comment.

Laura England said she believes the issue is being driven by some parents, although no one has told her their actual complaint.

She said local hockey officials will only say that the policy needs to be enforced.

"These kids are not showering together, they are not walking around naked together . . . she (Hailey) just wants to be included with her team as a teammate in all aspects," said England.



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