NC Cheerleaders Put on Probation over Pro-Trump Game Banner, Now Locals Are Rallying Back
Cheerleaders at a North Carolina high school were placed on probation after holding up a pro-Donald Trump banner at a football game, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The cheerleaders were not punished by their local school district, but rather by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, the governing body for interscholastic sports in the state.
However, some locals are not pleased that the cheerleaders were put on probation.
A photo taken at a home game last month shows North Stanly High School cheerleaders posing in uniform while holding a sign that reads, “Trump 2020: Make America Great Again.”
The photo made the rounds across social media before the NCHSAA noticed and stepped in to vaguely punish the students.
In a news release, the school district noted that the NCHSAA “has not defined the terms of the probation,” and the students will be likely be allowed to continue cheering at games this season, according to The Observer.
“It serves as a notice of behavior or action that is against NCHSAA Handbook Policy or contrary to expectations of sportsmanship and proper behavior,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker told McClatchy, insisting that the probation is not actually a punishment.
The district, meanwhile, pointed out that the sign was not endorsed by the school or anyone on staff.
“A student reportedly brought the banner and the photo was taken before the game started, officials said,” The Observer reported.
The district declined to punish the squad, despite a Stanly County Board of Education policy banning political advertisements on campus or at school events. Instead, the district simply asked that the banner not return to football games.
“This policy does not prohibit students from speaking their minds or engaging in protected First Amendment activities,” the district said in its news release.
“Because the cheerleaders were in uniform and were acting as representatives of the school, the display of the sign could be perceived as the school or school system endorsing a political campaign.”
“Stanly County Schools respects the rights of its students, staff, and visitors to express their opinions in a respectful manner on their own time, however, Stanly County Board of Education policy prohibits the display or distribution of political advertisements on campus or at school events,” the district says on its website.
“Further, Stanly County Schools never makes political campaign endorsements.”
It’s understandable that a public educational institution would want avoid the implication that it supports a particular candidate, and it’s commendable that the school district showed restraint in this situation.
However, the same cannot be said of the NCHSAA.
It’s pure speculation, but I wonder what the response would have been if the banner read “Health Care Is a Human Right” or “My Body, My Choice.”
My guess is that the governing body, the same one that recently approved a policy allowing biological boys to compete on girls’ teams, wouldn’t define those statements as political.
On the other hand, I doubt kids would be able to get away with a sign that read “Build the Wall.”
I’m doubly sure that if it said “Red for Ed,” the rallying cry for teachers unions organizing strikes, we wouldn’t hear a peep.
The best we can hope for is consistency, and maybe a little common sense.
Nevertheless, the NCHSAA still put the cheerleaders on probation.
But locals, meanwhile, are taking it upon themselves to stand up for the students.
More than 100 people are set to attend a Sept. 20 event organized via Facebook called “Support for the North Stanly High Cheerleaders.”
“The North Stanly High School cheerleaders have been wrongly put on probation by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for the rest of the football season because of holding up a Trump banner before a home game on 8-30-2019,” the event’s description reads.
“Please come out and help me show the school and the NCHSAA that freedom of speech is not dead. Please bring all your Trump and MAGA gear and lets throw our support behind the North Stanly High School cheerleaders,” it adds.
Hopefully there will be a good turnout, and the NCHSAA will know that locals will not stand for this.
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