A California high school cannot force its athletes to stand during the performance of the National Anthem, a federal court has ruled.
San Pasqual Valley Unified School District had banned ‘kneeling, sitting or similar forms of political protest’ in the interest of ‘student safety’ back in October, the Yuma Sun reported.
The School District decreed that students and coaches must ‘stand and remove their hats and helmets’ for duration of the song.
The district gave the decree in response to an incident during an away game at Mayer High School in Arizona the previous week.
San Pasqual Valley High School sought to ban athletes from ‘kneeling, sitting or similar forms of political protest’ during the National Anthem. A U.S. District Court ruled that the school’s decree was unconstitutional. Pictured is Colin Kaepernick, who inaugurated the movement to kneel as a means of protesting racial injustice
A San Pasqual Valley High School player identified as ‘V.A.’ in court documents chose to kneel during the anthem.
The player, who is described as Native American in court documents, was kneeling as a means of protesting racial injustice.
Mayer High School students reportedly shouted racial slurs and profanities at the kneeling player.
A San Pasqual Valley High cheerleader was hit with water sprayed from a Mayer High student’s water bottle, court documents about the incident indicate.
San Pasqual Valley High School is 92 percent Native American or Latino; Mayer High School is 77 percent white, Yahoo Sports reports.
The school issued the decree in response to an incident that occurred at Mayer High School (pictured in a general view) in Arizona
‘We believe in the First Amendment rights of students and staff, but student safety has to be our top priority,’ San Pasqual Valley Superintendent Rauna Fox told the Yuma Sun after the decree was issued.
On December 21, the U.S. District Court ruled that SPVHS’s decree violated V.A.’s First Amendment rights to political expression, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The court issued a preliminary injunction barring the school from continuing to enact its decree and V.A.’s attorneys say they will fight for a permanent injunction.
The school has not commented on the ruling.