Scott Smith, Superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools, said, “Standing for it reflects respect for our military and those who have given their lives, who’ve given arms and legs and things of that nature and sacrificed greatly for these privileges that most of us in this country have.”
His statement further stated, “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.”
Scott said the policy was devised after input from all Bossier Parish middle and high school principals. He added that principals and coaching staffs have sole discretion in determining consequences should a student elect not to stand.
Not so fast, says the American Civil Liberties Union. (ACLU). The Louisiana ACLU is condemning the Bossier School Board’s threat to punish students who do not stand during the National Anthem. Louisiana schools were put on notice warning them that forcing students to stand or punishing students who “take a knee” in protest of racial injustice and police brutality would violate students’ First Amendment rights.
The Bossier School Board said that its principals and their coaching staffs have sole discretion in determining consequences should a student athlete elect not to stand during the National Anthem.
The ACLU replies that the U.S. Supreme Court has rightly held that state schools have no business forcing students to stand for patriotic rituals. The Court also reminded public school administrators that part of their job is to train students for participation in a free society. This principle holds no less true today, and no less true on the playing field than it does in the classroom.
Meanwhile, while Bossier was taking a hard- line stance on the issue, Caddo Parish offered a different take. “It is the policy and procedure of Caddo Public Schools and the Caddo School Board to allow students and staff to practice their First Amendment rights as long as that practice does not impede on the ability of others to practice their beliefs,” Caddo Schools spokeswoman Mary Nash Wood said.
Wood added, “In Caddo schools, we will allow students to participate in play as long as their protest remains peaceful, civil, and does not affect any individual’s ability to participate in the National Anthem should they choose.”
Bossier Superintendent Smith responded: 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 organization should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans.”
Bossier’s stance has gained national attention. Apparently, no one violated its policy this past Friday night. But what will happen in the future remains in doubt.
Should a player violate policy and is punished for doing so, it appears the Bossier School District will have a lawsuit on its hands courtesy of the ACLU.
Read more by Lou Gehrig Burnett, published on Bayoubuzz.com
Poll supports players who protest
A poll conducted last week by the Seton Hall Sports Poll has found that 84% of Americans support the NFL players’ right to protest, with only 16% saying the players should be ordered to stand for the National Anthem or be dropped from the team if they refuse.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that 29% of respondents said they were watching fewer games this season, and of that group, 47% cited the player protests during the National Anthem.
Of the 84% supporting the players’ right to protest, 49% felt they should find a different way to express their political opinions and 39% felt that not standing for the Anthem is an acceptable way to protest.
Respondents were asked whether they agreed more with President Trump who called on NFL owners to fire any players who refused to stand or with Commissioner Roger Goodell and several NFL owners who called the president’s comments divisive.
Trump received the support of 28% and Goodell received 50%. Among African-American voters, Trump received 6% vs. 78% for Goodell. Whites were 32% for Trump and 47% for Goodell.
The poll of 845 adults was on both landline and cellphones and conducted across the United States. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%.
This is an emotional issue for many people with obvious differences between blacks and whites.