U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled that the Mahanoy Area School District (In Pennsylvania) violated a student’s First Amendment rights when it kicked her off the junior varsity squad for writing “fuck” repeatedly in a Snapchat post. Do you use that mouth to cheer with, honey?
The teen made the vulgar post on a weekend in May, 2017, off school grounds. It pictured her and a friend holding up their middle fingers with the cogent text, “fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.” She was dressed in street clothes, not her cheerleading uniform, with no pom-pons. I don’t know how schools got the idea that they could control every aspect of a student’s life and speech to this extent, but too many try. And too many get away with it. Continue reading →
There’s a lot going on here, and I may lack the ethics dexterity, or perhaps the courage, to figure it out.
I learned about the story on CNN this morning, as the newscasters were getting misty-eyed and “Awwing” all over the place. With a lot of fairly disturbing ethics issues rotting on my plate, I was looking for something uplifting to write about. I’m not sure whether this is it or not.
DENVER, Colo. – A Colorado teen with Down syndrome has made her dream of competing in a cheerleading competition come true.
Colorado’s 3-A cheerleading champions hail from Manitou Springs. At the top of their pyramid is a teenager who has overcome serious challenges in her life. The countdown is on as thirteen girls get one last practice in at the Colorado School of Mines. In minutes, the Manitou Springs Mustangs huddle will compete against other top teams.
Cheerleaders take center stage showcasing their spirit and synchronicity. The Manitou Springs Mustangs huddle one last time. And for the first time, joining them in competition is 16-year-old Kory Mitchell.
“She is full of life and full of energy and always wants to be a part of everything,” says her mom, Bonnie King, as she watches with pride.
Her daughter has dreamt about being a cheerleader since elementary school. Her mom is emotional.
But learning these already complicated routines is harder for Kory. “It`s just a tough road when you have a differently-abled child. And to see them have a sense of belonging and acceptance is what she wants, of course, is just so beautiful to see it,” mom says.
Kory’s teammates see what’s under the surface. Things like courage, patience and unconditional acceptance.
“She`s pretty spunky. And she`s got some sass. She loves being out there. It`s nice to see her smile and part of the team,” says one of her teammates. Sometimes competitions aren’t about who wins, but a little hardware doesn’t hurt.
Kory accepted the trophy and a hand from her teammates.
“It`s my dream come true. I love my girls a lot. I`m a big fan of cheerleaders,” Kory said.And Kory’s teammates are big fans of her. This was Kory`s first competition, but she has cheered with the team since last year at football and basketball games.
Back in November, Ethics Alarms reported the awful story of the Silsbee, Texas High school cheerleader, identified only as “H.S.”,who was kicked off her cheerleading squad for violating “the Cheerleader Code of Ethics” after she refused to cheer at a game for the player who, it was later determined, had sexually assaulted her. She stood silent in mute protest, and when her parents sued the school, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that H.S.’s silent protest was not protected speech under the First Amendment, meaning that she could be disciplined for violating the cheerleading conduct code.
Now the Supreme Court has turned down the case, refusing to review it, meaning not only that H.S. loses, but also that her parents have to pay court costs and legal defenses to the tune of $45,000.
This is a perfect example of the distinction between the law, justice, and ethics. Continue reading →
In the current issue of Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts relates the tale of an ethical outrage, one that will makes your heart sink at the realization that there is so much incompetence, lack of common sense, cruelty and irresponsibility in the world…and that so much of it resides in high school administration.
A Silsbee (Texas) High School cheerleader, identified in the story only as “H.S.”, had told police that she had been cornered in a room by three school athletes during a party, and sexually assaulted. Her screams were heard by others at the party, and charges were filed. Roberts writes, “In a town whose population is 7,341 and whose high school football stadium seats 7,000…the alleged assault prompted two questions: How would it affect the girl? And how would it affect the team?” Continue reading →