It's being described as a "bad move": a major Texas school district has developed guidelines for high school athletes who might want to kneel in protest during the national anthem.
Todd Vesely, the new athletic director for the Fort Worth Independent School District, told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram two weeks ago he had discussed proposed guidelines with coaches. "For those [athletes] who do protest, they need to be respected and those who do not need to be respected," the AD said at the time. "We don't want to create a disruption, or do anything that is not peaceful. That's our position. We want to use common sense."
One week after announcing the plans to establish guidelines, the Fort Worth ISD released a policy "strongly encouraging all students, whether on the field or in the stands, to respect and obey the law" during the playing of the national anthem. The policy also encourages coaches to "discuss with their student athletes what it means to obey the law."
OneNewsNow spoke with Emory McClendon of Project 21, a conservative black leadership group. He calls it "a bad move" on the part of the district.
"Rather than waiting or taking a wait-and-see attitude here, [the district] is encouraging the students to do something that may or may not even happen throughout the football season," he offers.
When asked by local news outlets to clarify what the policy means by the phrase "respect and obey the law," a district spokesman responded: "The literal meaning is to do what the case laws have outlined regarding your own personal activities, as well as the activities of others."
According to the Star-Telegram, the district policy basically permits athletes to protest peacefully and respectfully during the national anthem, provided they have discussed their plans with coaches and staff.
McClendon urges the district to be even-handed when it comes to allowing students to express their beliefs and opinions.
"They're giving these kids an avenue to disrespect this openly," he points out. "But at the same time, they're not giving the kids the opportunity to express how they feel about their moral values, how they feel about God, or how they feel about the principles that they were brought up on."
The Fort Worth ISD has also been embroiled in controversies over transgender bathroom policies and sanctuary campus policies to protect illegal immigrant students.