HYRUM, Utah (News4Utah)- A student at Mountain Crest High School in Cache County has filed a complaint for violation of civil rights against the school district after she was kicked off of the school’s cheerleading squad for ‘”improper social media usage”.
On May, 15th around 8 p.m. the student was in a car with four other girls. They were driving around in celebration after finding out they had made the 2018-2019 cheerleading team, court papers state.
“While in the car, one girl connected her phone to the car stereo and shuffled to a random song. A popular song titled “I.D.F.W.U.” by artist Big Sean began playing and the five girls began to sing along,” the attorney states.
The girls were in a public vehicle on a public road and obeying all traffic laws, court papers state.
At that point court paper state the student behind the lawsuit took out her cell phone and recorded an eight-second video of her and her friends singing the following lyrics from the song: ‘I don’t [expletive] with you, you little stupid [expletive, expletive], I ain’t [expletive] with you.”
“This is not an instance in which this young woman was engaging in hate speech or bullying, this was a teenager singing along to a song on the radio with her friends and that song happened to have curse words in it. And because she did what young people do today and recorded it, she is being punished by a policy that is clearly overly broad and we believe applied unfairly in this case,” a statement issued by the girl’s attorney, Angela Elmore, Utah Legal Clinic said.
Court papers state the student intended to save the video to her phone, but “accidentally hit a button next to the save button and added the video to her private Snapchat story.”
About 30 of her friends saw the video before she realized and deleted it, papers state.
The following Monday the five girls in the video were called to meet with school officials. During the meeting they learned they were dismissed from the cheer team for violating the Cheer and Stunt Team Constitution, the complaint states.
The girl’s attorney claims all of the other girls were told if they complete community service and give a presentation regarding proper social media usage they could be reinstated, but she was not given that option.
Her attorney claims she is being unconstitutionally punished for exercising her First Amendment rights outside of school property. The Civil Right complaint asks for the student to be reinstated without punishment and asks for school policies to be changed or removed to “comply with the student’s First Amendment Rights.”
Elmore, also claims in the complaint that the school district has a “history of treating female athletes differently than male athletes.”
Elmore writes in the Fall of 2016 a male football player was charged with distributing sexual photographs and material via text messages, but was only suspended for two games.
“No extra tasks, punishments, or other requirements were given before he was allowed to continue playing for the team,” Elmore wrote. As a result, court paper state a Title IX Complaint has been filed with the school district.
The school district responded to the complaint saying there was no evidence of gender discrimination.
“The football player in question had to meet the same criteria for team participation as any other athlete, male or female, at MCHS,” Kirk McRae, Director of Human Resources with Cache County School District wrote.
After back and forth discussion between the girl’s parents and school officials, administration at MCHS set forth a list of requirements that would allow the girl to be reinstated to the cheer team, court papers state.
Those requirements included: 50 hours of service;Apologize to Cheer Team;Prepare research based presentation on improper social media usage; and Meet with Admin/Coach/Athletic Director regarding positive plan to move forward.
The student her parent’s refused to accept. “While the school and its employees have the discretion to determine punishment and ensure a safe learning environment for all students, the school is not allowed to violate a student’s rights under the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Title IX,” documents state.
The Civil Rights complaint was filed on Thursday, May 24th.
“This young woman is not just fighting for her freedom of speech, but for the freedoms of her fellow students,” said Elmore.