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Texas Cheerleader Who Refused To Cheer For Her Rapist Loses Case

Texas Cheerleader Who Refused To Cheer For Her Rapist Loses Case

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court denied review of the case of the Texas cheerleader who was suspended from her team for refusing to cheer for her rapist without comment.  This means that a lower court ruling, which said that a cheerleader acts as a mouthpiece for the school and can thus be dismissed for refusing to speak, will stand.  It also means that the cheerleader’s family now owes the district $45,000 for the costs of “defending a frivolous suit,” as ordered by the New Orleans appeals court.

This story illustrates an appalling violation of a student’s right to speak out against an insensitive and traumatic order from school officials.  The girl, who is known just as “H.S.,” says that she was 16 when she was raped at a party by Rakheem Bolton, a star of her high school football team.  He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and received a suspended sentence.  The following winter, Bolton was playing in a basketball game when he went up to the foul line to shoot a free throw. 

H.S.’s lawyer says that the girls were instructed to chant, “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, come on, Rakheem, put it in.”  H.S., who had cheered for the rest of the game, folded her arms and remained silent.

This is an understandable protest against the fact that Bolton was allowed to return to school, and H.S. had every right to refuse to cheer for a man who had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her.  School officials, however, told her that she had to cheer for Bolton or be dismissed from the team.  She continued to refuse, was dismissed, and sued school officials and the district, saying that they had punished her for exercising her right of free expression.

An appeals court ruled that because cheerleaders were a “mouthpiece” for the school, and that H.S.’s protest was a “disruption to the educational process.”  But I have to wonder what would have happened if H.S. had claimed that cheering for a player was against her religion.  And what on earth is a “disruption,” if not an action by school officials that threatens the health and well-being of a student?

The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case is a devastating rejection of students’ rights to speak out against school officials, and a disturbing affirmation of a culture that punishes rape victims instead of perpetrators.

 

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Photo from Kevin Coles via Flickr.

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164 comments

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5:06PM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

WHY?

4:30PM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

Ana

What's shameful is the way you write.

2:59PM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

I THINK IT'S SHAMEFUL EVEN DISCUSS IF A RAPIST DESERVES THE CHEER!
IS SHAMEFUL THAT HE CONTINUES IN THE TEAM. IS SHAMEFUL THAT HE CONTINUES IN THE SCHOOL. IS SHAMEFUL THAT WE ARE DISCUSSING IF A GIRL THAT WAS RAPED IS OR NOT RIGHT. AND OVER ALL IS SHAMEFUL THAT HE IS FREE!
THE PLACE OF A RAPIST IS IN PRISON!

12:39PM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

Just look where our priority lie.

5:38AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

William Y: The "rapist" was not a party --the cheerleader sued the school. A court cannot make a non-party pay court costs.

11:05PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

@ Kathy M. If the court had seen through the non-sense, the rapist should have been forced to pay court costs. Why should she have to suffer 3 times when he is the culprit?

10:12PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

All I know is if I were genuinely sexually assaulted I don't see how it would be perfectly palatable to cheer on a team that included my rapist, except when he was the focus of the cheer, in which case the assault was just too much to bear. If I were sexually assaulted, I strongly doubt I would be inclined to continue to cheer for a team that included my rapist. In any event, the Court obviously saw through the nonsense because they ordered her to pay costs.

9:58PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Bibi S.--where is there a question about guilt and "alleged" crime? The guy was "a man who had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her".
And Kathy M.--it ia appalling that you equate sexual assault with be ticked off at an ex-boyfriend.

I hope that poor girl is close to graduating so she can get the hell out of Dodge. There's a lot of rednecks in my part of the world, but not even a redneck would expect cheering for the bastard.

9:30PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Well, remember, she wasn't too upset to cheer when his team was playing, just too upset to cheer for him. So what if another girl doesn't want to cheer for her ex-boyfriend? Then another girl doesn't want to cheer for some other reason. If it bothers her that much to be around him, then she shouldn't be. But a team is a team. If you can't function as a member of the team, you should not be on it.

9:02PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

@ Kathy M, evidently you have never been raped.

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