T-shirts with the slogan "Sea Level is for Sissies" (Bolder Boulder)
Out Boulder, an LGBTQ advocacy group, has launched an online petition seeking to pressure organizers of the Bolder Boulder to drop their slogan "Sea Level is for Sissies" because they say the word "sissies" is derogatory.
But race organizers say they have no plans to retire the slogan.
The Change.org petition was posted Wednesday by Out Boulder's executive director, Mardi Moore, and by the evening it had 25 signatures.
"The word is used to (demean) traits that are problematically and stereotypically associated with women," the petition reads. "Traits that all genders have but are not valued because they are associated with women. ... All genders express emotions and they should be embraced when they do.
"It's past due that the Bolder Boulder retire this slogan. Make your voice heard."
Moore said the slogan is "harmful" and leads to further misunderstanding about gender.
"This has been a longstanding issue for us in the LGBT community," Moore said. "When somebody calls you a sissy, it is not positive. ... That word continues the incorrect thinking that having emotions or expressing something in a stereotypically female way is somehow wrong in society."
Moore said she was motivated to put up the petition after a letter to the editor by Debbie Ramirez appeared in the Daily Camera on April 21 calling the T-shirt "highly offensive."
"I am a women who runs, rock climbs and performs well athletically. I also have the traits associated with someone who is called a sissy," Ramirez wrote. "I cry, I get hurt and I express my emotions. If this is what a sissy is, I am proud to be a sissy and would never wear a T-shirt that does not value these traits in all genders."
But Bolder Boulder race director Cliff Bosley said organizers of the Memorial Day 10K had a meeting about three years ago with Cathy Busha, then-director of Out Boulder, about the slogan and said he thought they came to an understanding that the slogan was not intended to put anyone down.
"While it was not their preference we continue to use it, they understood that it wasn't singling out their organization," Bosley said.
Bosley said Bolder Boulder will not retire the slogan.
He added that "Sea Level is for Sissies" has been one of the race's slogans for more than six years, and, along with others like "Altitude Adjustment" and "Run with Altitude," references the elevation of the annual race.
"This is in keeping with that spirit," Bosley said.
He said the T-shirt with the slogan has been one of Bolder Boulder's most popular sale items, and after the letter to the editor appeared in the Camera, he received numerous calls urging him not to do away with it.
Moore said she understands the slogan might be popular, but there are better ways to promote the race.
"It's a great race, and we're glad it's successful, but there have to be other ways to promote it," Moore said.