Rah, rah, sis boom bah: Silsbee High School in Texas wants their cheerleaders smiling, energetic, and willing to cheer for their rapists by name.
H.S., a Silsbee student, reported being raped by Rakheem Bolton, a fellow student and athletic star. Bolton pled guilty to a lesser assault charge against her.
Bolton was allowed to continue playing on the varsity basketball team, which meant that in her role as cheerleader, H.S. would have to cheer for a team that included her rapist. She continued to do so, but refused to cheer for him by name during his individual free throws.
In a display of extreme disrespect for a rape survivor and disregard for her well-being, school officials insisted that H.S. had to scream "Rakheem" with the rest of the cheerleaders, or she'd be kicked off the squad. School officials also pushed H.S. "to keep a low profile, such as avoiding the school cafeteria and not taking part in homecoming activities." She refused these instructions and lost her spot as a cheerleader.
Tell Silsbee officials that this is no way to treat rape victims, and insist that they publicly issue an apology to H.S. immediately. Furthermore, tell them to instate a policy outlining appropriate treatment of sexual assault survivors, which does not put the onus on the victim to ensure smooth interactions at the school, and to instate prevention programs that have been suggested by H.S.'s father.
Update: H.S.'s family lost a First Amendment lawsuit, with the court deciding that cheerleaders are only a "mouthpiece" for their schools, with no right to refuse their to cheer their rapists. The court further declared the lawsuit "frivolous" and has ordered the family to pay more than $35,000 in legal fees. For the school to take money from a rape victim over their clear misconduct -- even if it's not for free speech reasons -- is beyond the pale. Demand that Silsbee refuse to take money from the victim's family.
Update: Want to do something else for H.S.? Journalist Scott Rose is calling for people to mail one penny to the Silsbee School District if the superintendent will not waive the fee as a form of protest. You're encouraged to send a note expressing your POV on the subject as well. Pennies should be mailed to:
Richard Bain Jr.
Silsbee Independent School District
415 Highway 327 West
Silsbee, TX, 77656
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