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Texas Mom Suing Cheerleading Organization Accused of Discriminating Against Deaf Daughter

Cheer Athletics said in a statement that they "spared no expense conferring with experts in the field" to support the 9-year-old

  • Alicia Mims alleged in the suit that Cheer Athletics “refuses to accommodate” her 9-year-old daughter Ari’s disability for competitions "by providing qualified interpreters"

  • "There are a lot of emotions that you go through when you know your baby is capable and I know what my child is capable of doing," Mims said

  • Cheer Athletics said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE that they have "advocated" for Ari "to ensure she remains an integral part of her squad"

A mother has filed a lawsuit against a Texas-based cheerleading organization, accusing them of “intentionally” discriminating against her 9-year-old daughter, who is deaf.

The complaint, which was reviewed by PEOPLE and filed by Alicia Mims in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, acknowledged that Cheer Athletics began a “trial period” of providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters at practices last month.

However, the organization allegedly still “refuses to accommodate” her daughter’s disability for competitions "by providing qualified interpreters to meaningfully access, participate in, and enjoy [the] Defendant’s services in the same manner as children without disabilities," per the lawsuit.

The complaint also alleged that Cheer Athletics placed “significant restrictions” on the interpreters’ ability to communicate necessary information with Mims’ daughter during practice.

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“For example,” according to the complaint, “while the athletes are performing a 'skill' ” — a team-based, coordinated physical performance often involving challenging and potentially dangerous athletic maneuvers — coaches verbally give instructions and engage with the athletes, but [the] Defendant prohibits the interpreters from translating this information into ASL. [The child] thereby misses learning opportunities and safety warnings otherwise available to her hearing teammates.”

The lawsuit accused Cheer Athletics of discriminating against Mims' daughter, causing her "severe emotional distress and denial of opportunity."

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Mims had made numerous requests to Cheer Athletics to provide qualified ASL interpreters at her daughter’s practices and competitions that would allow her to communicate with staff members and enjoy the cheerleading program, per the suit.

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Mims' daughter, Ari, 9, told NBC affiliate KXAS that she loves "to cheer because it's my favorite sport."

Ari expressed her difficulty understanding her coaches, telling KXAS: "I can't do it, and I get in trouble, and I get frustrated."

According to the complaint, Mims is requesting that Cheer Athletics end its alleged discriminatory practices and institute policies that would “ensure effective communication, full and equal enjoyment, and a meaningful opportunity for children who are deaf to participate in Defendant’s cheerleading program and competitions.”

“There are a lot of emotions that you go through when you know your baby is capable and I know what my child is capable of doing,” Mims told the station.

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Mims is also seeking declaratory and injunctive relief along with compensatory damages, the complaint added.

In a statement shared with PEOPLE on Thursday, Cheer Athletics said the allegations made in the lawsuit were false.

“Cheer Athletics spared no expense conferring with experts in the field,” according to the facility. “We spoke with the child’s doctor, who said a roger device was the correct accommodation for this athlete in the all-star cheer environment. We immediately purchased the roger device at our sole expense. The mother refused the roger device accommodation and demanded a translator. A translator was then provided at our expense.”

“We have advocated for this athlete to ensure she remains an integral part of her squad,” the statement added.

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Read the original article on People.