Cheerleader who wouldn't root for assailant loses
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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    Default Cheerleader who wouldn't root for assailant loses

    A Texas high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player - the same athlete she said had raped her four months earlier - lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal Monday.

    A federal appeals court ruled in September that the cheerleader was speaking for the school, not herself, and had no right to remain silent when called on to cheer the athlete by name.

    The Supreme Court denied review of the case Monday without comment.

    The girl, identified by her initials H.S., was 16 when she said she was raped at a party in her southeast Texas hometown of Silsbee in October 2008. She identified the assailant as Rakheem Bolton, a star on the Silsbee High School football team.

    Bolton ultimately pleaded guilty in September 2010 to a misdemeanor assault charge and received a suspended sentence.

    At a February 2009 basketball game in Huntsville, Texas, H.S. joined in leading cheers for the Silsbee team, which included Bolton. But when Bolton went to the foul line to shoot a free throw, H.S. folded her arms and was silent.

    H.S. said the district superintendent, his assistant and the school principal told her she had to cheer for Bolton or go home. She refused and was dismissed from the squad.


    H.S., joined by her parents, sued school officials and the district. They claimed the school had punished her for exercising her right of free expression.

    An appeals court in New Orleans ruled against her, saying a cheerleader acts as a "mouthpiece" for the school.

    Federal courts have also ordered H.S. and her parents to reimburse the district more than $45,000 for the costs of defending against a frivolous suit.

    The family's lawyer, Laurence Watts, said the ruling means students who try to exercise their right of free speech can be punished for refusing to follow "insensitive and unreasonable directions."
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...MNSI1JAT0E.DTL


    The Supreme Court refused to hear her case, which leaves the federal appeals court ruling in place. That court ruled that the cheerleader was speaking for the school, not herself, and had no right to remain silent when called on to cheer the athlete by name.

    We debated this issue at the time of the appelate decision, but I'm curious about the family's lawyer's point. The appelete court basically said her position as a cheerleader trumped her right to free speech. The appelate courts have a mixed history on whether students have a "right to free speech," and many student free speech cases have ended up at SCOTUS. In Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), SCOTUS famously said that students do not leave their rights at the schoolhouse door, but it's also limited that scope in more recent cases. In both Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986) and Morse v. Frederick (2007), SCOTUS agreed that a limitation of or punishment for those students' exercise of vulgar or drug-related free speech was not unconstitutional. Should SCOTUS have taken this case to help settle the issue of student free speech?

    Last edited by Spacers; 05-04-2011 at 02:22 PM.
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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    OK, I've tried about five times to fix the quote so the whole article shows together but it's not working. Sorry!
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    Posting Addict culturedmom's Avatar
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    I think the courts are absolutely right. Cheerleaders are mouthpieces for teh school. Sadly she goes to a sexist, bigotted, evil school that condones violence against women. The whole thing grosses me out.

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    H.S. said the district superintendent, his assistant and the school principal told her she had to cheer for Bolton or go home. She refused and was dismissed from the squad.
    If I had a child in that school I would be petitioning for all 3 of these people to be fired. Legal or not, it is ridiculous that they removed her from the squad for that, and intervened in the first place saying she had to do the cheer.
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    If I had a child in that school I would be petitioning for all 3 of these people to be fired. Legal or not, it is ridiculous that they removed her from the squad for that, and intervened in the first place saying she had to do the cheer.
    I agree with this.

    I would not agree that cheerleaders can refuse to cheer for any individual that they want, simply because they don't happen to like that person. But I think that this particular case should have been handled with a LOT more sensitivity, and I would be IRATE if that were my child.
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    Posting Addict carg0612's Avatar
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    Why is it they can't come to some type of compromise? Why must she be dismissed from the squad? Would it be so bad as to ask her to sit out of cheers where she would be required to chant her assailant's name but participate in other cheers? She doesn't need to make a big stink about it but just quietly stand aside or something.

    I guess I understand that part of her "job" is to cheer and act as a "mouthpiece" but she's still a child and I think making some efforts to accomodate this unusual situation shouldn't be out of the question. I mean she's is brave enough and strong enough to go out there and cheer she should at least have some consideration granted to her.

    I just feel that sometimes if people could think a little out of the box there can be compromise.

    The whole thing makes me ill just thinking about it - that poor girl.
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    Can I take this out on a tangent?

    In my high school the cheerleaders rode with the bball players to games.

    Is this girl riding to games with her assailant? She is standing on the side lines while he plays ball? The rape charge was dropped, he was not convicted, but if I believed that my child had even been assaulted by a boy on the squad that she "cheered" for.....well.......that would not sit well with me. Are her parents okay with her cheering on a team that he is on? I mean.....not to be all "I would do" ....but (not knowing any of the particulars of the case) ..... um, no way would my daughter be on a cheering team if the very team that the cheering squad cheered for contained her rapist.

    And maybe one of you will be all "why should she be deprived of her "right to cheer" because HE raped HER......" But yeah, she simply would not. I don't care if we would have to move, or to take on debt, or join a private cheer squad, or get the assailant kicked out of school, or whatever.....but if I believed that this boy raped my daughter, and my daughter was.still.supposed.to.go.to.SCHOOL.with him, let alone cheer on his team, well? No.

    Other than that, I agree with the decision. Cheerleaders are supposed to cheer. What if a cheerleader didn't like black kids and didn't want to cheer for the one black kid on the team? Too bad.

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    Posting Addict momW's Avatar
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    Melissa- I was thinking the same thing when I read this one earlier. No way would my daughter still be there!

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    Melissa - I take your point but...you were right when you said that some reactions might be "Why should she give up her 'right to cheer' when she is the victim?" I think that's my reaction to it in theory, although in practise if that were really my daughter - I don't know. I think I feel like making her quit cheering (if that was something she really enjoyed) or changing schools (presumably pulling her away from her friends) is kind of punishing her, not him. I get that it is also protecting her, but...it doesn't sit quite right with me.

    Again, I think that in general cheerleaders should not get to pick and choose who they cheer for, but in this particular instance, given the (documented) history, I think an exception should be made.
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