Houston-area school districts won't punish student athletes for protesting national anthem

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School districts won't punish athletes for protesting national anthem. (KTRK)

Thousands of teenage football players in the greater Houston-area look up and aspire to be like the professionals. They dream of making it to the National Football League. The NFL is currently engulfed by a controversy surrounding the national anthem.

President Donald Trump has urged owners to fire players who protest during the song by taking a knee.

Eyewitness News reached out to several of the big school districts in southeast Texas. No district we contacted said they plan to punish student athletes who may follow in the pros' footsteps.

Only the Houston Independent School District said there is a specific policy on the books. It reads, "When the national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," is played outdoors, all present should stand at attention, face the flag, (if the flag is not visible, face toward the music), and salute." The district said settled supreme court law makes enforcing the policy impossible.

Below you will find HISD's official statement and what other districts are saying about the controversy.

HISD

"It has been a tradition at HISD athletic events for participants and fans alike to stand in honor of the American flag and the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of such contests. HISD also protects the constitutional right of student athletes, as set forth explicitly in HISD Board Policy FNA (LEGAL), not to participate in that tradition.

Specifically, the long standing United States Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette held that students may not be compelled to participate in patriotic observances, which include standing, saluting and reciting the pledge of allegiance. Accordingly, HISD will not mandate nor interfere in the actions of student athletes in observing or not observing the tradition of standing during the national anthem."

Katy ISD

"Katy ISD's practice is to play the national anthem prior to varsity competitions, when a sound system is present. Likewise, students participate in the United States and Texas pledge of allegiance at their campuses daily. However, the district does not currently have any type of policy concerning the national anthem."

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD

"There seems to be some confusion regarding a recent article concerning a local youth football league cancelling the playing of the National Anthem before games. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD will continue to play the National Anthem at school events as we always have. The district has no affiliation with Cy-Fair Sports Association (CFSA), which is a private organization."

Fort Bend ISD

"We don't have a formal policy that dictates when and where the anthem shall be performed, but our practice is that it is performed at many sporting and district events such as varsity games and dedication ceremonies. We welcome performances from our fine arts students to perform publicly, but when and where the anthem is performed would vary by campus, grade level, event, etc.

As such, there is no formal policy for what would happen if a student chooses not to participate, and no discussions underway to change our current practices."

Spring ISD

"We have traditionally played the National Anthem right before the game starts, and we are continuing this practice. For example, if the start time is at 7 p.m., the anthem will be played at 6:58 p.m. We do not have a policy that requires anyone to stand, and we will not interfere with a peaceful, non-disruptive demonstration, such as kneeling."


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