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Can A School Ban Its Students From Kneeling During The National Anthem?

What started as a demonstration among professional athletes against racism and police brutality has spread to high school athletes, including cheerleaders, and ignited debate over students’ First Amendment rights. Half a century after the US Supreme Court ruled that an Iowa high school had illegally barred students from protesting the war in Vietnam, V.A.’s lawsuit could set new precedents on free speech protections for public school students.

“The people who are trying to stifle speech should not be able to do so by shouting down those who protest or threatening them,” said Ira Gottlieb, the attorney representing V.A.’s family. “We need greater protections than that.”

Long before judges got involved, school administrators and youth coaches across the country decided on whether to allow the protests, which spread across the country through the fall as students followed the lead of the more than 200 professional football players who knelt or sat this season.