Last year, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) stepped up enforcement of a rule requiring students to provide their Social Security numbers in order to participate in school sports.

In a memo that alluded to the anti-immigrant sentiment behind the decision, the LHSAA warned of an “influx” of students providing state-issued ID numbers rather than Social Security numbers. They said that student-athletes without proper documentation, including Dreamers brought to the U.S. by their parents, would not be allowed to compete in LHSAA sports.

In other words, “show us you papers, or sit on the sidelines.”

LHSAA failed to explain what consequences they feared this “influx” would have – or why they thought undocumented students shouldn’t be able to play high school sports along with everyone else.

LHSAA’s papers-to-play requirement was another example of discriminatory, anti-immigrant policies that have become all-too-common in the Trump era.

As we explained to LHSAA in a letter demanding the rule be repealed, children in Louisiana have a right to participate fully in a public education – regardless of their immigration status.

In Plyer v. Doe, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when they deny undocumented children the same educational opportunities that are provided to United States citizens.

LHSAA’s rule was also a disservice to all Louisiana students and a betrayal of what high school sports is supposed to be all about. High school sports should help foster values like teamwork, inclusion, self-confidence, and resilience – not perpetuate the discriminatory views of adults.

That’s why it’s good news that last week, LHSAA agreed to repeal this unconstitutional policy thanks to a grassroots campaign organized by our allies at Nuestra Voz.

All students, including undocumented students, should be able to compete in high school sports without being discriminated against or sidelined because of who they are.

Moving forward we’ll keep fighting to make sure discriminatory policies that target immigrant communities have no place in Louisiana public schools – on or off the playing field.

 

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