Pole dancer getting legal tip from ACLU

Sept. 4, 2008 at 11:24 AM

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union in Pennsylvania say they are helping a pole dancing instructor in a constitutional matter.

ACLU Legal Director Witold J. Walczak said the organization decided to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of Stephanie Babines after the 30-year-old was unfairly denied a dance studio permit in Adams Township, Pa., The New York Times said Thursday.

"Why is the ACLU. here?" Walczak said. "The simple reason is this involves teaching, and that is expression protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution."

The legal issue began when Babines, a computer programmer during the day, decided to teach women how to pole dance at night.

Babines' application for a permit was rejected by Adams Township code enforcement officer Gary Peaco. Peaco, who maintains that her proposed business site would violate regulations that forbid an adult business from being within 1,000 feet of a residential area and bar.

While the ACLU is fighting for Babines' rights, she told the Times she is fighting for the right to help women fell comfortable in their own bodies.

"I love making people feel better about themselves," she said. "Through the classes, their bodies change."

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