San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines during the NFL preseason for refusing to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of what he perceived to be racial inequalities and injustices in the United States. The incident, which has fueled both praise and scathing criticism of Kaepernick, has inspired similar protests by a number of high school students, including athletes, in recent weeks, drawing reprimands in some cases from school administrators.
Football players in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio, for example, recently refused to stand for the national anthem before games, according to local reports, while students in Louisiana, Florida, and other states remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance at their schools. Two Louisiana students filed complaints with the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union this month after they were told they would be punished for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance, saying the threats infringe on their First Amendment rights, according to the Associated Press. A 15-year-old student in Blue Island, Ill., was reportedly withdrawing from his school after receiving threats for sitting during the Pledge.
A version of this article appeared in the September 21, 2016 edition of Education Week as H.S. Athletes Emulate NFL Star on Anthem