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Federal court: School’s ban on Anthem protests unconstitutional

January 4, 2018 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
A federal court last week ruled that a California school district’s ban on National Anthem protests was a violation of the students’ First Amendment rights.

The San Pasqual Valley Unified School District, just five miles north of Yuma, issued a ban on National Anthem protests after an incident during a football game last season. As one of the high school football players took a knee during the Anthem, fans from the rival team yelled racial slurs at the players, according to court documents. The school district responded by adopting a policy that barred players from protesting.

The federal court granted a temporary injunction, but the attorney for the student — identified in court records as Native American — will seek to make it permanent, according to the L.A. Times

From the article:

Schools have the authority to curb speech only when the expressions threaten to disrupt a school’s educational mission, the ruling said.

Gottlieb said the student’s attorneys will now be seeking a permanent injunction.

“We are pleased with this outcome,” Katie Traverso, a Bush Gottlieb attorney who argued for the plaintiff in court, said in a news release. “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.”

The San Pasqual Valley Unified School District has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision.

National Anthem protests have become more common at the professional level, but pockets of high school athletes throughout the nation have followed suit. A number of private schools, which have more freedom than public schools when it comes to setting restrictions, have issued bans on student protests.

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