A group of high school cheerleaders in North Carolina are being placed on what the state high school association called “probation” after they held up a “Trump 2020” sign at a football game and then posted a picture of it on Facebook.
The punishment for the North Stanly High School cheerleaders came down this week from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, which put the squad on probation for the sign supporting Donald Trump. However, officials did not suspend the students from cheering at the school’s football games. As CBS News reported, the cheerleaders themselves were not disciplined, but the school was warned that they violated a rule against political signage at sporting events.
A spokesperson for the school district said that students are permitted to engage in political displays on their own and have the right to free speech in schools, but said that because the cheerleaders were in uniform and representing the school, the display constituted an endorsement of a political campaign.
The punishment is gaining national attention this week, with a number of news outlets picking up on the story and many sharing it on social media. Some expressed anger that the students would use a sporting event to promote Donald Trump, while others saw the discipline as a violation of their First Amendment rights. As CBS News noted, the original picture shared to Facebook showing the cheerleaders with the “Trump 2020” sign argued that they had the right to express their political opinions.
The North Stanly High School cheerleaders are not the only squad in hot water for a public display supporting Donald Trump. As The Inquisitr reported this week, a group of cheerleaders in Arkansas also faced discipline for holding signs that promoted Trump’s campaign. According to the report, the Lake Hamilton High School cheerleading squad held banners that read “Make America Great Again” and “Trump The Leopards!” in reference to their opponent.
The signs drew some pushback, including from local state Senator Joyce Elliott, who shared a picture of the sign and said that it was inappropriate for a public high school to be making such a political display.
If this is a public school, this is totally inappropriate. If it’s a private school, it’s poor judgment. We are all entitled to our politics of choice but not to using public entities to advance our politics. pic.twitter.com/sOUrapPIkT— Joyce Elliott (@xjelliott) September 15, 2019
In North Carolina, the North Stanly High School cheerleaders will be allowed to continuing cheering for their high school football team and none of the cheerleaders will face any discipline for the incident. However, the reports suggest that it’s clear they will no longer be allowed to display signs supporting Donald Trump at their games.