It all started with ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to the start of NFL games, ostensibly in protest of police brutality and racial injustice.
It didn’t take long before the protests — which many people view as anti-American — spread to other players throughout the league, as well as in other professional leagues and sports, and even in some cases at the high school level.
According to TheBlaze, a federal judge in California just ruled in favor of protesting players at the high school level, and declared that school districts could not force players to stand respectfully for the playing of the anthem.
That ruling came in response to a lawsuit by a Native American high school football player identified only as “V.A.” against the San Pasqual Valley school district. The suit was filed after the district changed its rules and required student athletes to stand for the anthem.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the district had changed its rules in response to an incident that occurred at a game when students from a rival school in Arizona had yelled racial slurs at “V.A.” and other San Pasqual Valley students because of his kneeling protest prior to a game.
Those other students from Mayer High School in Spring Valley, Arizona, had allegedly threatened to force the player to stand for the anthem, had hurled obscenities and slurs at the offending player, and had even doused a San Pasqual Valley cheerleader with water.
District Superintendent Rauna Fox implemented a new rule afterward that barred any sort of “kneeling, sitting or similar forms of political protest” at school-sponsored athletic events, and also required all students and coaches to “stand and remove hats/helmets … during the playing or singing of the National Anthem.”
But the student sued the school district on the grounds that they were violating his First Amendment-protected right to political expression, and a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California agreed in a ruling issued on Dec. 21.
According to the judge’s ruling, schools only have the authority to curb a student’s speech if their expressions in some manner threaten to disrupt the educational mission of the school, which in the judge’s view did not appear to be the case in this instance.
Thus, the judge ordered a preliminary injunction against the district that prevents it from enforcing the rule regarding the national anthem protests.
Attorneys representing “V.A.” have already stated that they intend to seek a permanent injunction against the district’s rule against anthem protests.
“We are pleased with this outcome,” stated Katie Traverso, an attorney for the Bush Gottlieb firm that represented the student, in a news release, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Students like our client who conscientiously carry their values and ideals with them, cannot be silenced or directed on what to say or not say by their school in this manner.”
This ruling will be viewed as an unfortunate outcome by many Americans who believe the national anthem protests are disrespectful to the country.
It could also prompt other students in the state and across the country to feel emboldened to begin protesting as well, or to file challenges of their own against school districts that have implemented similar rules regarding political protests during the national anthem.
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