Student Well-Being

Dirty Cheering?

April 05, 2005 1 min read

State Rep. Al Edwards of Texas decided he had seen enough.

The Democrat from Houston said that too many cheerleaders’ dances at high school events had become too risqué, and that constituents had begun to complain.

That’s why he introduced legislation in the Texas House this year that aims to do something about it. The bill, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, would encourage school districts to restrict sexually oriented dancing by cheerleaders and other groups at school events.

“It has just been allowed to go too far,” Mr. Edwards said in an interview last week. Provocative dances contribute to the “exploitation of our young girls,” he added.

Mr. Edwards said he wants to keep a provision in his bill that would strip public schools of state money if they didn’t follow the spirit of the law. But he admitted that the funding provision probably would not pass.

“We know the people in the school system know what to do,” Mr. Edwards said.

As of late last week, there had not been a vote on the bill.

Cheerleaders and others who strut their stuff at games and other school events might prefer that oversight of their dancing remain at the school level—and certainly outside the influence of state politicians.

Martha Selman, the director of marketing for the Garland, Texas-based National Cheerleaders Association, said she was aware of Rep. Edwards’ bill, and had not seen the likes of it before.

“I’ve not heard of any state doing this,” Ms. Selman said. “In principle, we agree with the desire to prohibit sexually suggestive material in school routines. I think we would be better served by having education for the coaches versus enacting legislation that could endanger school funding.”

School leaders should ensure that adults who coach cheerleading and dance squads are well trained through the National Cheerleaders Association or similar organizations, Ms. Selman added.

Coaches, she continued, are trained to help students learn cheerleading safely and to teach responsibility in devising routines that are appropriate for young audiences. “Through the credentialing,” she said, “they get resources; they get training on how to create choreography that can still be eye-catching but doesn’t have to resort to shock value.”

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