Cheerleaders

The issue, started in 2012, has finally come to a close.

The Texas Supreme Court has decided not to allow an appeal to move forward in the case of cheerleaders and the Kountze Independent School District. After more than five years, it appears as though the cheerleaders will be free to start the games by running through banners that have Bible verses printed on them.

The issue started in 2012, when the cheerleaders started using the banners as a way to inspire the players as they ran through the swaths of paper. Soon, the school district forbade the cheerleaders from brandishing the banners before football games. They had been contacted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which had lodged a complaint that argued religious texts had no place in the school area. As a result, the school banned the banners.

The district did so with the belief that the cheerleaders were representing the school with their banners. It was not private speech that was being infringed upon, but government speech in the district’s estimation. That is allowed to be censored by the school. Thus, the school would not allow bible verses to be quoted on the banners, stating that the banners had created controversy and discomfort.

However, the cheerleaders were vehemently opposed to the district limiting what they believed was their right to free speech. After all, the cheerleaders had purchased the paint and paper and made the banners without school intervention at all. They contacted the First Liberty Institute and began their journey through the courts to have their rights to fly the banners restored.

Hiram Sasser, general counsel for First Liberty, believes that the refusal to hear the case on the part of the Texas Supreme Court will officially put the court battles to rest. After all, the Kountze cheerleaders have won the right to fly the banners at the district, appeals, and Texas Supreme Courts; every challenge has been found to be in their favor.

As high school football continues to light up Friday nights across the country, Sasser wants everyone to know that their high school cheerleaders have the right to free speech protected in this case. He declared: “it’s good to be reminded that these cheerleaders have a right to have religious speech on their run through banners—banners on which the cheerleaders painted messages they chose, with paint they paid for, on paper they purchased.”

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter