Cheerleaders from a North Carolina High School were put on probation on Sept. 16 for holding a Trump 2020 banner during a high school football game that happened last month.
The North Stanly High School cheerleading squad was placed on probation for the rest of the football season after pictures of them holding a Trump banner during a game on Aug. 30 started doing the rounds on social media, reported the Daily Mail.
The picture posted on Facebook shows cheerleaders posing with a banner that reads “Trump 2020: Make America Great Again.”
The students were put on probation by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) but the terms of probation are yet not outlined and the students will likely continue to cheer during the games in this season, reported The Charlotte Observer.
NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker told McClatchy newsgroup that the probation is not a kind of punishment, reported The Charlotte Observer.
“It serves as a notice of behavior or action that is against NCHSAA Handbook Policy or contrary to expectations of sportsmanship and proper behavior,” she said.
Stanly County Schools said in a statement that it is aware of the incident and is investigating it.
“We are currently investigating this matter but as of this morning, we have determined this was not an act planned or endorsed by the school or its staff. A student attending the event brought the flag into the game, which was not present when entering the gate. The picture was taken prior to the event starting,” it said.
County Schools said it respects students’ right to express themselves but it doesn’t allow political advertisements on campus.
NC Conservatives posted about the event on Friday in support of the cheerleaders.
“Cheerleaders at North Stanly High School Stanly County NC were put on probation for the rest of the football season for holding a Trump 2020 banner!” wrote NC Conservatives in an event invitation on Facebook. “They have an agenda and it’s bad for our students. Come out and show support for these kids expressing their First Amendment rights!”
The event, organized by community members and scheduled for Sept. 20, calls on people to contact NCHSAA’s chairperson and to “let her know that the First Amendment of these girls has been stripped by putting the cheerleaders on probation.”
Local Kelly West shared the same message on her Facebook and said, “This is not a pro-Trump post, it is a free speech post.”
Some people argued that it is not to do with free speech and the students were put on probation because political advertisements are not allowed within school districts.
“I don’t think this had anything to due with freedom of speech for a political person but a rule that is followed within the school district. Most school districts don’t allow political support during events. I’m all for freedom of speech and for everyone being able to show their support for their beliefs,” one person responded to West’s post.