Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cheerleader Goes to Washington

Sneerleader, by r8r
In a previous post, I talked about a Silsbee, Texas, high school cheerleader who was kicked off her squad for refusing to cheer for the boy who had raped her. The boy eventually pled guilty, but was never disciplined by the school. The cheerleader’s family sued and lost and was required to pay the school district’s legal fees, $45,000. The court’s reasoning: she was the school’s “mouth piece” and could be compelled by the school to do its bidding, whereas the school had no obligation to promote her message of protest.

Her family has taken the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, in hopes that they will reinstate her free-speech suit against the school district.

Of course it is absurd that the student is in this position at all. If the adults at her school had been doing their jobs in the first place, the attacker would have been disciplined by the school immediately after pleading guilty (if not sooner) and the girl would have been treated with more respect and empathy by school officials, including allowing her to not cheer for her attacker. It is a pretty big stretch to say that her actions harmed the school in any significant way.

Free Speech for 6th-Graders
On a broader note, this case should be watched closely by teachers and students, as the court’s decision could either broaden student free speech rights at school, or further erode them, following the trend of the past several decades. (This trend does not apply to 6th-graders wearing graphic anti-abortion t-shirts, which is still a protected free speech right, even if the pictures frighten the kindergartners).

For a summary of recent student free speech cases visit the ACLU site

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