A Louisiana superintendent threatened punishment Wednesday against students who refuse to stand during the national anthem, Think Progress reported. The unconstitutional warning, the American Civil Liberties Union said, comes just days after Donald Trump issued a call to fire NFL players who took a knee in protest of the national anthem.
Coaches and principals will have sole discretion to dole out punishment to players who protest the national anthem at school-sanctioned sporting events, stated School Superintendent Scott Smith, chief of Bossier Parish School District in Benton, Louisiana, on Wednesday morning. Individual schools would administer punishment to students who violated the directive, said Smith, after the statewide Louisiana High School Athletic Association abdicated issuing discipline pertaining to protests, the Shreveport Times reported.
“It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right,” said Smith, “and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans.”
The ACLU condemned the directive on Twitter.
Potential punitive actions may run the gamut from one-game suspensions to corporal punishment, said at least one school official to the Shreveport Times. Players may have to run extra laps if they choose to kneel or otherwise protest during the national anthem, continuing a disturbing pattern of reprimanding of individuals for sounding the alarm about racism and police brutality.
Students will forfeit playing time and participation as well as may be removed from a team if they fail to stand respectfully during the National Anthem at Parkway High School, which is part of the Bossier Parish district.
“Parkway High School is committed to creating a positive environment for sporting events that is free of disruption to the athletic contest or game,” Parkway High Principal Waylon Bates said in a letter sent to athletes and parents that was tweeted by Shaun King.
The American Civil Liberties Union responded to Bates’ letter on Twitter.