Mahanoy Area Needs to Fight for the Right to be the Adult in the Room
Mahanoy Area School District announced recently it’s appealing a federal court ruling that said it had to let a girl kicked off its cheerleading team back on the squad.
The Shenandoah Sentinel reports the school district filed its appeal to a U.S. Middle District Court decision on April 12. It wants a chance to fight the decision that said Mahanoy Area must allow this student back on to the cheer team.
For a quick refresher: In 2017, a sophomore at Mahanoy Area High School known as “B.L.” in her lawsuit against the district was kicked off the cheer team. She posted on Snapchat a message that read:
“fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything”
Allegedly, the message was only supposed to be available to “B.L.” friends. Somehow, the message got to the daughter of a cheer coach at Mahanoy Area, who eventually showed it to her mother. The coach said “B.L.” had to leave the cheer team.
The school says its cheer team has rules against conduct like that, promoting anything that makes the cheer team look bad.
So, “B.L.” got kicked off the team but allowed back after a restraining order was put in place. “B.L.” has been on the team since.
In late March, a federal court ruling said Mahanoy Area had to allow the girl back on the team. It said the school violated its student’s First Amendment rights in kicking her off the team over a Snapchat message.
By appealing, Mahanoy Area doesn’t believe it has to let the girl on the team. It thinks breaking team rules should have consequences. And they believe that Snapchat post, no matter how private it was meant to be, breaks team rules.
ACLU Says Mahanoy Area Fight a Waste of Money
“B.L.” has been joined in her fight against the school by the ACLU-Pennsylvania chapter. The ACLU says the school’s fight is just wasting taxpayer money.
Reggie Shuford, the executive director at ACLU of Pennsylvania, says, “It is a shame that the school district has decided to waste more taxpayer dollars fighting a battle that’s already been resolved—rightly—in favor of students’ free speech.”
But is this a waste of taxpayer money fighting for the sake of team rules?
On the surface, it seems the school may be imposing too harsh a punishment. Maybe a suspension before kicking the person off the team?
owever, it doesn’t appear “B.L.” or those representing her seem willing to admit any fault in this case.
Yes, it’s her right to post whatever she wants on social media. But it’s also the school’s right to pick who makes the cheer squad or any other team or club wearing the school’s name.
And then you dig a little further. In making their case to be reinstated to the cheer squad, one of “B.L.’s” parents says their daughter was unfairly targeted. It’s why she wasn’t promoted from JV cheer to varsity in her sophomore year.
“To add insult to injury, an incoming freshman made the varsity squad,” the filing reads.
So, is this really a case of the school stomping on the First Amendment rights of a child?
Or is this a case of someone who thought they were entitled to a position on the varsity team? The fact that the lawsuit argues that someone younger than their daughter got taken on the team speaks volumes about the people bringing the lawsuit.
Coaches Need to Coach, Players MUST Show Respect
Making a team is not a right. It’s a privilege.
Does every kid who gets cut from a sports team or from an academic team have the right to go out and piss and moan about it? Yes.
Do they have the right to demand a spot on the team? Nope. The school didn’t kick the girl out of school over the message.
If this is allowed in the future, any kid who’s upset about playing time can take to whatever social media they want and rant and rave about it. And yes, they’re within their rights to do that. But not without consequences.
So, we hope Mahanoy Area fights this out. “B.L.” needs to accept the consequences of her actions. The school should not be punished for being the adult here.