High School Cheerleader’s Angry Social Media Post Lands at US Supreme Court
Los Angeles Times
It was the end of her freshman year in high school and she’d just been informed she had not made the varsity cheerleading squad for the second year in a row. The girl, identified as B.L. in court papers because of her age, would be on the junior varsity squad again as a sophomore.
“F— school. F—softball. F— cheer. F— everything,” B.L. wrote, spelling out the offending words in a Snapchat post. In an accompanying photo, she and her friend stuck out their tongues and raised their middle fingers.
A classmate saw the post and took a screenshot of it — showing it to her mother who was a coach on the cheerleading team. Next thing she knew, B.L. was suspended from the JV team for the entire following year.
Did the school have the right to punish B.L. for what she posted? The district says yes and is pursuing the case to in the nation’s highest court, despite losing earlier cases all along the way.
The young girl was punished, the district insists, for violating rules demanding “respect for school, coaches, teachers [and] other cheerleaders” and prohibiting “foul language” and tarnishing the image of the school.
If schools are going to monitor outside speech, they’d better have pretty clear guidelines about what they may and may not punish under the 1st Amendment. And that should not include speech that doesn’t cause serious interference in the operation of the school or potential harm to others.