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Viewpoints: Should “taking a knee” be allowed on public school campuses?

    By Angelina Liang

    Opinion Editor

    Inspired by displays of over 200 National Football League players kneeling during the National Anthem, high school athletes have chosen to take a knee against social injustice in America. Despite this being an entirely peaceful protest, many public schools have resorted to punishing student athletes for this action. As teens voice their opinions against the decisions of the current administration, it is important to remember that taking the knee is well within the constitutional rights of all Americans, including students.

      New York Times writer Lee Siegel explains that in football, taking the knee is, “a gesture of self-surrender before the greater reality of human suffering.”

     As this action became a sign of protest against systematic oppression and institutionalized racism, school administrations have taken it upon themselves to keep students from exercising their first amendment rights by taking the knee.

      In a statement released to parents on Sept. 28, Louisiana public school principal Waylon Bates stated, “Parkway High School requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event […] Failure to comply will result in a loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal. Continued failure to comply will result in removal from the team.”

      This barring of students’ political expression is entirely unconstitutional. The first amendment guarantees all Americans the freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly – a right that is extended to students.

      In 1943, Justice Robert H. Jackson set the precedent that it is unlawful for public schools to force patriotism on students in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, a case that decided that students cannot be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.

      His judicial opinion read, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.

      According to the New York Post, Bossier Parish Superintendent Scott Smith, the school district behind Parkway High School, made its district wide decision based on the idea that for veterans that defend our country, freedom is not free.

      Yet the entire point of our Constitution, of our nation, is to secure the ideal that freedom stays free. Rather than punish students, public schools must continue to support and protect the first amendment rights of its people – even if the government refuses to do so. Students must be allowed to peacefully protest in any way they choose to – refraining from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, publicly voicing thoughts against the national government, even taking the knee during the National Anthem.

      Social injustice won’t be solved by kneeling during a ceremonial tradition, but it is still the right of every American to choose to do so. Taking the knee is a show of unified and widespread discontent with the government, a clear message that the strength of the people cannot be ignored or threatened.


    By Christine Tran

    Staff Writer


      When Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the national anthem in August of 2016, it had accomplished what he wanted it to do. People began paying attention to police brutality and social injustices. But over the course of the year, taking a knee became an issue itself. This protest should not be encouraged because it causes disunity among  groups and distracts from the original message.

      NYPost writes that sophomore Gyree Durante at Division III Albright College in Pennsylvania was cut from his football team for kneeling during the anthem two games in a row. Before this his team had already agreed to not kneel out of respect for everyone’s differing views and to show team unity. By kneeling, Durante disrespected the team’s collective opinion and in turn showed that he was not the team player he promised to be. Former teammate of Duarante, Josh Powell told NBC10, “We trusted him throughout the week, after time and time again he told us he would stand,” Powell said. “When you can’t have a player on a team that you can trust, he’s got to go.”

       Taking a knee has spread to colleges, high schools, and even some elementary schools, the message is overshadowed by school struggling for control. It is one thing to kneel as a professional NFL player, it is another to kneel as a high school student who is reflection of the school and uses the school resources.

      According to the Houston Chronicle, two high school football players, Cedric Ingram-Lewis and Larry McCullough were kicked off their team at Victory and Praise High School after kneeling for the anthem. Occurrences like these have sparked whether or not it is proper for high schoolers to use their sporting games as a political platform. Schools are being forced to decide between protecting the rights of their students at the risk of upsetting parents and sponsors of the school.

    Taking a knee has caused a rift between the American people. What was meant to be a peaceful protest against social injustice, has turned into burning jerseys and death threats, arguing and hassling schools until they reach a conclusion that will never please everyone. At some point along the way, taking a knee became a bigger issue than the social injustices it meant to bring attention to.

      Rather than taking knee, people should take action. Very few NFL players have gotten up and tried to make changes. Kaepernick has donated 800,000 dollars to charities  that work to prevent the very social justices he kneeled down for. According to the Chicago Tribune, four NFL players, Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins and Torrey Smith and the retired Anquan Boldin, petitioned to the commissioner of the NFL asking that they designated November as Activism Awareness Month. But these are 5 players out of the 49 NFL players and 13 teams that have kneeled so far. With the many college and high school players along with professional players from other sports who are now joining, there are a lot of people taking a knee and staying there.

      The act of taking a knee has done its job, it has captured the attention of the media and the people, it is not enough anymore. In order for something to actually happen, athletes need to stop taking a knee and find ways to create the change that they are demanding for.



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    Viewpoints: Should “taking a knee” be allowed on public school campuses?