A Buena Vista University cheerleader resigned from her squad last week after the school instituted a policy mandating that players and cheerleaders stand during the national anthem.
Sophomore Alyssa Parker, who had been on both the football and basketball cheer teams since her freshman year, was one of nine cheerleaders who knelt during the national anthem during a Sept. 30 game.
The multiracial group of cheerleaders joined several football players in taking a knee, duplicating the silent protest begun by quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 NFL season to protest injustice and police brutality in America.
The Sioux City Journal reports that Joshua Merchant, president of Buena Vista University, held meetings with players and cheerleaders in the week after the initial protest but ultimately decided to change the school’s official policy as it relates to action during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The new policy, according to KCCI-TV, instituted in October, requires that “student athletes and cheerleaders will stand for the national anthem as a unified team. However, student athletes and cheerleaders will be allowed to kneel before the anthem if they choose.”
On Monday, Parker, who is head of the school’s Black Student Union, sent an email to her coach, saying that ignoring her personal strong beliefs on social injustice is “problematic,” and referencing the police shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
“Standing for something I know personally isn’t right, isn’t something I feel should be forced upon me,” she wrote. “I understand in life, at times when you’re an adult you have to do things you don’t like because someone in power said so, but that is not the same in this case.”
Merchant declined to comment in the case, but he may want to prepare for a lawsuit. Other African-American students who are being penalized for expressing their constitutional right to protest are bringing lawsuits against their schools and school districts.