PITTSBURGH - A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania last summer on behalf of a woman who was denied a permit to open a dance-and-fitness studio to teach pole dancing has been settled for $75,000 in damages and attorneys' fees. The instructor, Stephanie Babines, and Adams Township (Butler County) had previously reached an agreement in October allowing Babines to open her studio. She has been teaching classes there since November.
"I'm sorry this turned into a federal lawsuit," said Babines, "but I'm glad the misunderstanding has been resolved and I can now concentrate on teaching women a form of art and exercise that allows them to have fun, feel confident about their bodies and express their sexuality."
According to the lawsuit, Adams Township officials improperly classified the studio as an "adult entertainment" venue to justify refusing Babines' request for an occupancy permit. In reality, the studio was simply a dance-and-fitness studio marketed in a provocative way. The lawsuit claimed that the township's permit denial violated Babines' First Amendment right to teach and communicate ideas about a lawful, constitutionally protected and increasingly popular form of art and fitness.
"Although the type of dance instruction that Stephanie offers raised some eyebrows - and garnered a lot of publicity - this case was really about a young woman who set out to open a business so she could share her enthusiasm for this dance form with other women," said Sara Rose, an ACLU-PA staff lawyer and one of Babines' attorneys. "We are happy that she was able to open her studio and recoup the costs she incurred in fighting the township's denial of her occupancy permit."
Pole dancing has become a popular form of exercise for women around the country, and even in China. Babines' studio, Oh My You're Gorgeous, is the first dance studio to teach pole dancing in Pittsburgh's North Hills.
Court papers and more information about the case, Babines v. Adams Township, can be found at: /our-work/legal/legaldocket/babinesvadamstownship/