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School Says Student Athletes Who Protest National Anthem At Games Will Be Removed From Team

More and more students across the nation are taking a page from the playbook of their favorite pro-sports athletes and 'taking a knee' during the National Anthem. Kneeling in protest has become a trendy thing to do, even for students too young to understand what the anthem is about, or what they're protesting. Kids as young as age four have been dropping to a knee during the 'Star-Spangled Banner', eager to imitate sports stars and to please their parents and teachers who approve of the protests. But one high school in Louisiana isn't having it.

The principal of Parkway High School in Bossier Parish sent out a letter to students and parents, and he means business. In the letter, Principal Waylon Bates tells them that student athletes are required 'to stand in a respectful manner' during the anthem.

Bates further states that any students who don't adhere to the rule will suffer penalties, such as losing playing time, or being removed from the team altogether.

The Bossier School District Superintendent Scott Smith inspired Bates' policy. The superintendent wrote in a statement to the media that 'freedom isn't free' and he said that the district officials 'expect our student athletes to stand in solidarity when the National Anthem is played'.

“Our principals and their coaching staffs have sole discretion in determining consequences should a student athlete elect not to stand during the National Anthem and they are making their expectations known to players and their families this week”, Smith's statement said. “As Superintendent, my administration will be in full support of these school-based decisions”.

According to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director, Eddie Bonine, last year numerous students took part in 'taking a knee' protests. The association has decided that it should be up to individual schools to decide how to deal with it.

Many people have jumped on social media to complain about the decision, arguing that students' Constitutional rights are being violated. "The Supreme Court ruled that students don't have to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance—that goes for the national anthem on the ballfield too," tweeted the ACLU.

“For Superintendent Scott Smith to insinuate that it’s disrespectful for students not to stand during the National Anthem is unacceptable”, Mr. Boone said. “As my brother says it best, 'as a soldier we defend the Constitution and not a song or flag,'” wrote Brandon Boone, a former student of Parkway High School and member of the Basketball Team.

Boone says his father was in the military for decades and his brother is currently serving, but, "You can not stop students or people in general from expressing their First Amendment rights.

The school's new policy may be challenged in court, and it may not stand much of a chance. A Supreme Court ruling has set a precedent saying that trying to force students to say the Pledge of Allegiance or join in patriotic displays is a violation of students' rights. The ruling was made in 1943 when a Jehovah’s Witness felt that being forced to salute the flag was a violation of religious freedom.

Source: Yahoo
Photo: YouTube, Twitter

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