Suit claims town discriminates against pole-dancing studio

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A woman filed a federal lawsuit today against Adams Township, Butler County, because it denied her a permit to open what she calls a dance and fitness studio.

Stephanie Babines, who operates a business called "Oh My You're Gorgeous," planned to open her studio where she would teach pole dancing, but was denied an occupancy permit.

The lawsuit makes First Amendment claims that the township is prohibiting Ms. Babines from teaching and communicating ideas about a lawful form of art and fitness.

The suit was filed on her behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

"The activities deemed too provocative by Adams Township have become an increasingly popular form of exercise for women around the country, and even in China, a country not known for freedom," said Witold Walczak, ACLU of Pennsylvania's Legal Director and one of the woman's attorneys.

Ms. Babines, who works in information technology, teaches her dance and fitness classes to help women express their sexuality, according to a news release.

The classes that would be offered at the studio include pole dancing, hoop aerobics, strip tease, power lap dance, "stiletto strut," salsa and belly dancing, cardio kickboxing and what she calls "SeXXXercise," which is an abdominal and core muscle work out.

All of the classes are taught fully clothed and do not have spectators.

"My classes are a specially designed exercise for women that allows them to have fun, feel confident about their bodies and express their sexuality," Ms. Babines said in the release. "This is not a strip joint or gentleman's club. This is a dance and fitness studio just like hundreds of others that have recently opened around the country, including here in the Pittsburgh area."

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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