Friday Night Kneeling: Policies for area high school student-athletes taking knee during anthem

If Friday night football gets more political, Sacramento-area high schools say they'll support their students' right to express themselves.

If Friday night football gets more political, Sacramento-area high schools say they’ll support their students’ right to express themselves.

Football players for Sacramento High School took a knee during the anthem earlier in the season. Principal Shannon Wheatley says the conversation around the issue has been productive.

“I think one of the things that’s great about our campus is we don’t necessarily teach our kids what to think, but how to think. I know that this is a big national dialogue happening right now across the country in different spaces, and again we’re really pushing our kids in the classroom to think beyond themselves,” Wheatley said. “We have a current events class, our kids are dialed into what’s going on, and that was the decision they made – to take a knee.”

ABC10 News reached out to district spokespeople from Elk Grove Unified, Sacramento City Unified, Natomas Unified, San Juan Unified, Turlock Unified and Folsom Cordova Unified.

A spokesperson for Elk Grove Unified said there have been no reports of student-athletes taking a knee during the anthem this school year, but said the district’s statement from the previous year held true.

The statement says, in part, that, “The Elk Grove Unified School District and its schools support standing for the national anthem, and the expression which that act stands for in the hearts of many Americans. This is a personal issue, however, and EGUSD respects and supports our students’ individual experiences and their right to exercise their freedom of speech and expression protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

San Juan Unified’s spokesperson says it has not received any reports of student-athletes kneeling during the anthem, and has no policies on the issue. A spokesperson for Turlock Unified said the district is also unaware of student protests, but that students have the right to freedom of expression while at school.

At the time of publication, a spokesperson for Sacramento City Unified School District said the district was not aware of any athletes protesting during the anthem, but was waiting to hear from all of its school sites. ABC10 News has not yet received responses from Folsom Cordova Unified or Natomas Unified. 

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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