A Texas high school denied today claims by a gay student that he was booted from the cheerleading squad because he was spotted on surveillance tape kissing another boy, but declined to say why he was cut.
The 17-year-old boy, who doesn’t want to be identified, was a member of the varsity cheerleading team at Alice High School in southern Texas, until he was removed from the roster last week. He was also suspended from school for two days.
The school district said in a statement today that it “has recently reviewed the recent removal of a student from the Alice High School Cheerleading Squad. After reviewing the Alice I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct and the Cheer Program Handbook, the removal will stay in effect. The student’s parents are in agreement with the district’s decision.”
“The student and parents are clearly aware that the student was not removed from the squad for kissing another student at school. While the student is free to discuss certain aspects of his discipline in the media, the District cannot discuss the specifics of this incident and must respect the privacy rights of the students involved in this matter,” the statement said.
The student told NBC affiliate KRIS-TV, “It was a heartbreaker when I was told I had been kicked off.”
The teen says he’s being punished because he was seen on surveillance video kissing another male student in the band room. According to the school handbook, students can be taped by security cameras when they’re on campus, and the principal reviews the video routinely to document student misconduct and “discipline students in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.”
Public displays of affection are not prohibited in the student handbook, and the teen says they’re common at his school.
“If that were the case, suspending everyone for [kissing], half the school would be suspended,” he said. He argues that he wouldn’t have been punished if he was seen kissing a female student, and he was being targeted due to his sexual orientation.
Chuck Smith, deputy executive director with Equality Texas, says the main issue in this case is whether the school’s rules are being enforced equally for all students.
But, the student says the district has its priorities wrong: “They should be paying more attention to drugs and alcohol use than kicking a person off a team for kissing.”
It is unclear what, if any, further action the student plans to take against the school.