Statement of Opposition to the Diocese of Rockville Center's Policy on Protest
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To Whom it May Concern:
We, the alumni, donors, parents, community members, and students of Holy Trinity Diocesan High School, openly reject the recent policy memorandum handed down by the Diocese, which states that “all student athletes and spectators are expected to stand during the playing of the National Anthem at school sporting events, without any gestures of demonstration or protest.”
In sum, we believe this policy infringes upon our First Amendment rights. It has been stated time and time again that Holy Trinity, as a private institution, is well within its rights to maintain such a policy. This does not mean that such a policy is morally or socially just. The purpose of a private school is to allow for the unimpeded right of an education institution to administer religious education without limitations by the government; this does not extend to nationalist beliefs. However, penalizing students who exercise a constitutional right to free speech blatantly serves to push a particular political agenda. Holy Trinity should not use its status to supersede the rights of its attending students or of the campus community as a whole. We, the undersigned, believe that the church, and by extension, private Catholic schools, have no business impeding on matters of personal freedoms that have already been guaranteed by secular government.
Within the mission statement, Holy Trinity claims to be a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as a motivator for students in their pursuit of truth. By ignoring the pain of the most marginalized members of the community, this memorandum communicates neither of those claims to be rooted in reality. While the ranks of Holy Trinity’s sports teams are made up of a racially diverse group of students, this decision to restrict protest during sporting events puts the onus upon students of color, particularly black students and their allies, to leave the political nature of their identities at the school doors. The particular method of protest in question began with professional football player, Colin Kaepernick, in the spirit of racial justice. He believed that he could not stand for the National Anthem in a country where racism was deemed acceptable and justice was repeatedly abated by the inflictors of racist violence. Through his actions, Kaepernick sought to shed a light on the everyday injustice of racism in America and to begin a conversation around how to move forward. Students athletes, and their friends and family, should have access to similar means of recourse.
In sum, we stand with all the students and athletes who have been impacted by the chilling message that this policy has sent.
Our demands are as follows:
1) A statement be issued by Holy Trinity High School indicating their disapproval of the aforementioned statement and a refusal to enforce the order handed down by the Diocese.
2) A rescinding of the statement by the Diocese and an acknowledgement of their extreme overstep into the secular legal rights of their student’s rights to free speech, assembly, and protest.
It is our hope that this statement will communicate the gravity of the offense perpetrated against the black and brown students who make up such a vital part of the school community.
To all those students who feel unseen, unheard, and generally disregarded as a result of these recent events, we, the undersigned, see you, hear you, and stand in unity with you.
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