The high-school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad after refusing to cheer for her alleged rapist is going to the Supreme Court.
The girl, known as H.S., reported that she was raped in 2008 at a party in Silsbee, Texas by one Rakheem Bolton. Bolton was arrested, but not charged. When in '09 H.S. joined the school's cheerleading squad, she refused to join in cheers for Bolton — "Two, four, six, eight, ten, come on, Rakheem, put it in," according to her lawyer — sitting out on the sidelines instead. She was dismissed from the squad when she wouldn't back down. As she told ABC, "As a team, I cheered for them as a whole. When he stepped up to the free-throw line, it didn't feel right for me to have to cheer for him after what he did to me...After that game I decided I started this, I'm going to get my point across now," she said. "So I didn't cheer for him at the playoff game either."
In September Bolton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, and the girl's family sued the school district and officials for inhibiting free speech. The suit was dismissed as frivolous and the family was ordered to reimburse the school's costs. Later, a Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, stating that a cheerleader serves as a "mouthpiece" for the school and adding that H.S.'s actions "constituted substantial interference with the work of the school."
Now her lawyer, Laurence Watts, has announced that he's appealing to the Supreme Court. The question at issue will be, in essence, whether or not her refusal did indeed constitute "substantial interference" with educational aims. But the case could have larger implications for student speech. And, says H.S.,
"All I wanted was for somebody to come forward and say, 'Yes, it happened.'"
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