Court: High school athletes can kneel during national anthem

New England Patriots players take a knee during the national anthem at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on September 24. Earlier this month, a California court struck down a high school district's rule against protesting during athletic events. File Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI

Dec. 31 (UPI) — A federal court this month ruled in favor of a California high school student who kneeled during the national anthem, despite school rules forbidding protest during athletic events.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California temporarily struck down San Pasqual Valley Unified School District’s rule against “kneeling, sitting or similar forms of political protest” during sporting events and a requirement that students and coaches stand during the national anthem, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The rule was imposed in October after an incident in which members a rival high school team from Arizona yelled racial slurs at SPVUSD players who engaged in protest. San Pasqual Valley has a majority Latino and Native American population. The Arizona team is from a majority white district, according to Yahoo Sports.

“Our students were subjected to verbal assaults, other kinds of assaults, other incidents including the throwing of water and the use of racial slurs and gestures,” SPVUSD Superintendent Rauna Fox told the Yuma Sun at the time.

But a SPVUSD football player, named only as “V.A.” in court documents, filed a lawsuit against the school district on grounds that the rule violated his First Amendment rights.

Attorney Katie Traverso, the attorney who represented V.A., praised the court’s decision.

“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,” she said.


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