It’s been a little over a year since Colin Kaepernick took a stand against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, his example ricocheting into young minds. Similar to Kaepernick, a 17-year-old high school quarterback is facing the same persecution after he took a knee during the national anthem at an Arizona high school.
The California native, anonymously referred to as V.A. in a Buzzfeed article, and his family are suing the San Pasqual Valley school district, under the grounds of a violation of his right to free speech.
This wasn’t the first time he took a knee. He first kneeled on his home field at San Pasqual Valley High where most of his classmates and parents are Latino or Native American. His action was received with a lot of support.
It wasn’t until he kneeled at a football game in Mayer, Arizona whose students are 78 percent white, that it became a problem. Six days after the game, San Pasqual Valley school district superintendent Rauna Fox put in place a new policy, stating anyone who kneels, sits “or similar forms of political protest during athletic events at any home or away games” will be kicked off the team and “subsequent teams during the school year.”
The high school principal Darrell Pechtl said in a court statement that V.A.’s act could be seen as “disrespectful” and that he would be kicked off any school sports team if he knelt during the anthem.
“The people who are trying to stifle speech should not be able to do so by shouting down those who protest or threatening them. We need greater protections than that,” said the attorney representing V.A.’s family, Ira Gottleib.
According to Buzzfeed, the San Pasqual Valley school district has avoided confronting the issue, and on orders of the school district, the national anthem was not played before the last game of the season.