Earlier this week, the Supreme Court declined to review the case of a recent Texas high school student who was kicked off her school’s cheerleading squad after she refused to chant the name of a basketball player who had allegedly raped her. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative courts in the country, ruled last November that the victim — who is known only as H.S. — had no right to refuse to applaud her attacker because as a cheerleader in uniform, she was an agent of the school. To add insult to injury, the Fifth Circuit dismissed her case as “frivolous” and sanctioned the girl, forcing her family to pay the school district’s $45,000 legal fees.
The Fifth Circuit explains:
As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams…This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.
But as Think Progress notes: “It’s unclear to many court watchers how H.S.’s silence was disruptive, or how the school’s right to “disseminate speech” through cheerleading outweighed the needs of a sexual assault victim.”
Appalling. And some interesting material here for those who work on silencing. In this case, what’s at issue is the right to *be* silent, which is being denied. Astounding that it turns out to be the school’s free speech supposedly at issue.
For the full story, see here.