September 28, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana put Louisiana schools on notice today, warning them that forcing students to stand during the National Anthem or punishing students who “take a knee” in protest of racial injustice and police brutality would violate students’ First Amendment rights.

ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman condemned Bossier Parish School District and Parkway High School for threatening to punish student athletes who protest racial injustice by kneeling during the National Anthem:

“Bossier Parish is threatening to punish students for peacefully protesting racial injustice and taking a principled position for freedom and equality. This is antithetical to our values as Americans and a threat to students’ constitutional rights.

Nearly 75 years ago, the Supreme Court rightly held that state schools have no business forcing students to stand for patriotic rituals. The Court also reminded public school administrators that part of their job is to train students for participation in our free society. This principle holds no less true today, and no less true on the playing field than it does in the classroom. Schools have no valid interest in turning their students into mouthpieces of government speech, full stop. Indeed, schools should respect students who embrace their constitutional rights and stand up to injustice – not punish them. And it would be patently unconstitutional for the school to do so.”

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