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Texas Cheerleader Fights for Right Not to Cheer for Her Alleged Assailant

Cheer In Texas, an interesting legal dispute continues to play out over a cheerleader who refused to cheer for a basketball player on her school's team who she alleges raped her. When the player went to the foul line to shoot free throws, the rest of the cheerleaders performed a cheer that included his name. The cheerleader at the center of the case, who is known as "H.S.," did not cheer for the player, and instead "stepped back, folded her arms and sat down."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that at halftime of the game in question, a school district official told H.S. that she had to cheer for the player or go home. H.S. refused, was kicked off of the cheerleading team and ultimately filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the school district's actions violated her right to free speech.

The Chronicle reports that in October 2009, the lower court dismissed her case, finding that "H.S. had not been engaging in free speech because her actions conveyed no specific message to onlookers, other than disapproval" of the player. In September 2010, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court, finding that "in her capacity as cheerleader, H.S. served as a mouthpiece through which (the district) could disseminate speech - namely, support for its athletic teams." The 5th Circuit concluded that the school district "had no duty to promote H.S.'s message by allowing her to cheer or not cheer, as she saw fit." On top of that, the 5th Circuit found H.S's lawsuit to be frivolous, and ordered her to pay the school district's legal fees. H.S. intends to seek a rehearing.

The basketball player denied raping H.S. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, however, and received a suspended sentence, the Chronicle notes.

Posted by Bruce Carton on November 9, 2010 at 01:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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