Imagine having to go to school every day with the man who raped you.
Imagine that your rapist is also a popular football and basketball star and you’re a cheerleader.
Would you want to cheer for the man who raped you?
I wouldn’t and a 16-year-old in Texas didn’t want to either so she kept quiet. The result: she was kicked off her school’s cheerleading squad.
Fair? I certainly think not.
The student, only identified as H.S., from Silsbee High School sued the school for their actions but an appeals court dismissed the case earlier this month stating that “In her capacity as a cheerleader [she] served as a mouthpiece through which the school could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams.”
Not cheering for one player on the team meant that H.S. was not being supportive of the whole team and didn’t have the right to be on the squad. Her rapist however not only avoided his one year prison sentence by pleading guilty to a lesser charge, but was allowed to return to school and invited back on the varsity basketball team.
H.S., on the other hand, was asked to keep a “low profile” at school , avoid the cafeteria, and not take part in school activities like homecoming.
Now, I have to ask: Why is the victim in this situation being restricted, yet her rapist is being welcomed back with a cheering sideline?
If you think about it this story really isn’t new. Around the world women who are raped carry the shame of their sexual assaults while the men who rape them negotiate lesser sentences and are welcomed back to their communities.
If you ask me, officials at Silsbee High School should be less worried about cheering sidelines and more worried about supporting their students who have been sexually assaulted.
Photo used under a Creative Commons license by SD Dirk.