SUMMIT, NJ - While it has yet to occur, the Summit Public School District -- in a two-sentence statement to TAPinto Summit -- indicates it would respect a student athlete's decision to protest during the National Anthem by kneeling or other act / gesture.
"All public school students have the right to free expression providing that expression is peaceful and non-disruptive. Our district has a history of honoring those rights, and will continue to do so," said June Chang, Summit Superintendent of Schools.
Professional athletes' decision to kneel, raise a fist in the air, or remain seated during "The Star Spangled Banner" was elevated to another level this past weekend when President Donald Trump, at a September 22 campaign rally in Huntsville, AL, for sitting Republican Senator Luther Strange, said that National Football League owners should respond to any of its players protesting during the National Anthem by saying, "Get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!."
The remarks, coupled with the President's decision on September 23 to rescind an invitation for the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors to visit The White House -- due to the fact guard Stephen Curry had expressed reservations about attending such a ceremony -- set off a firestorm in the media and on social media, with athletes and celebrities generally critical of Trump's remarks, while others supported the President's stance.
In 2016, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem by telling NFL Media in August of 2016, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
Yesterday, while some players took a knee or sat down during the anthem, most chose to stand, arm-in-arm, during "The Star Spangled Banner" with three teams -- the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers -- remaining in their locker rooms during the National Anthem. One Steelers player, U.S. Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, came out of the locker room to stand for the National Anthem.
On September 23, Oakland A's catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee, with his hand over his heart, during the National Anthem. He is believed to be the first Major League Baseball player to not stand during the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner."
In responding to TAPinto Summit's question regarding the Districts position should any student-athlete choose to not stand for the National Anthem, the District forward also forwarded an excerpt from District Policy 8820, which -- in part -- states, "...The pledge of allegiance shall be rendered with the right hand over the heart, except that students who have a conscientious objection against such pledge or salute, or are children of accredited representatives of foreign governments to whom the United States government extends diplomatic immunity, shall not be required to render such salute and pledge or stand during such pledge or salute, but shall be required to show full respect to the flag while the pledge is being given."