A Louisiana school has gotten out in front of the kneeling during the National Anthem controversy by threatening students.
Parkway High School student athletes have been told by their principal, Waylon Bates, that they are required to stand for the Anthem, and failure to do so could get them removed from their respective teams, the New York Post reported.
“Parkway High School requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is playing. Failure to comply will result in loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal,” he wrote in a letter sent home to parents.
“Continued failure to comply will result in removal from the team,” he continued. “Parkway High School is committed to creating a positive environment for sporting events that is free of disruption to the athletic contest or game.”
Bates is not the only principal in Bossier Parish to issue a warning to athletes.
An unidentified principal told the Shreveport Times that punishments can range from “extra running to a one-game suspension.”
The warnings from principals came after their superintendent, Scott Smith, issued a decree explaining that playing sports is a choice, not a right, and that students are expected to stand.
“Freedom is not free. Each day the men and women at Barksdale Air Force Base and in other branches of the military in Bossier Parish and throughout the nation don a uniform and put their lives at risk as they proudly serve and protect us with honor,” Smith wrote in a letter sent to the Parish’s schools.
“The least Bossier Schools can do is expect our student athletes to stand in solidarity when the National Anthem is played at sporting events in honor of those sacrifices,” he wrote. “In Bossier Parish, we believe when a student chooses to join and participate on a team, the players and coaches should stand when our National Anthem is played in a show of respect. This extends to those that elect to join a club or student organization, which requires a faculty sponsor.
“It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right, and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans,” he continued. “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…It is an honor for Bossier Schools to pay homage to the American flag and stand during the National Anthem. May we never take that for granted.”
Smith reiterated his stance on “Fox & Friends” Saturday.
Not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union was not happy with the decree.
“The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana put Louisiana schools on notice today, warning them that forcing students to stand during the National Anthem or punishing students who ‘take a knee’ in protest of racial injustice and police brutality would violate students’ First Amendment rights,” it said in a statement.
“Nearly 75 years ago, the Supreme Court rightly held that state schools have no business forcing students to stand for patriotic rituals,” ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman said. “The Court also reminded public school administrators that part of their job is to train students for participation in our free society. This principle holds no less true today, and no less true on the playing field than it does in the classroom…Schools should respect students who embrace their constitutional rights and stand up to injustice – not punish them. And it would be patently unconstitutional for the school to do so.”
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