The L.A. Times reports that a federal court has ruled a high school football player can’t be forced to stand during the national anthem at school games. This decision at least temporarily overrules a San Pasqual Valley Unified School District requirement that no students or coaches may kneel, sit or show other forms of political protest during the anthem. It also states that they must stand and remove their hats and helmets.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued its ruling on the matter on December 21, 2017.
The school system’s rules on the matter were originally enacted after a rival school yelled racial slurs at its player that refused to stand. The player has only been described as Native American, and was aiming to protest racial bias by copying NFL players who knelt during the anthem. The actions of the NFL players have initiated public arguments about whether they are calling attention to matters they feel are important or disrespecting the flag and country’s veterans.
At the game in question that initiated the new rules, students at a rival Arizona school yelled the slurs and sprayed water at the students from San Pasqual Valley, according to the ruling.
The court issued an injunction that temporarily prevents the school system from implementing the new rules, stating that they violate the student’s 1st Amendment rights to political freedom and expression. In the ruling, it further determined that the school may only issue such rules that impede free speech when such speech disrupts the educational mission of the school.
The student at the center of the case now has lawyers prepared to seek a permanent injunction against the rules.
School district officials could not be reached for comment, according to the L.A. Times; it is also unclear whether they will appeal the court’s decision.
*Photo credit David J. Phillip/Associated Press; San Francisco 49ers kneel during the national anthem.