Cheering from the lines

Four cheerleaders at a high school in Hempstead, Texas have been thrown off the squad.

They didn’t skip practice. They didn’t get caught smoking in the bathroom. They weren’t even busted for drinking alcohol. They have been kicked out for a far worse feat—they became pregnant.

What a shame! Take away their megaphones and throw out their pom poms. They no longer deserve to yell, “Go team!”

At least that’s what the Hempstead board of education is saying. However, many people are voicing opinions to the contrary, much to the dismay of the board.

The district forced the girls off the squad for being pregnant in September and has since voted to forbid pregnant students, or those who have children, from holding elective office on campus.

To add to the controversy, one of the girls who had an abortion was allowed back on the team.

Does this mean the board is endorsing abortion and condemning pregnancy? It sure sounds like it. In other words, the board is taking a value stance on an issue it has no call to address.

The girls who became pregnant did set a bad example. As student leaders at the high school, others will look up to them and some might see pregnancy as a “cool” thing to do. The girls should be commended, however, for finding the courage to go through with the pregnancies.

Should their privileges to hold elective offices at the school be revoked based on their personal lives?

Positions should be granted based on qualifications and the results of a vote. By passing a rule forbidding those who are pregnant or have children to hold these positions, the board is discriminating—something federal law obviously prohibits. The law rightly says a school or institution that receives federal funds “shall not discriminate against or exclude any person on the basis of pregnancy.”

The fathers were not punished at all in the whole incident and probably continue to kick around the school as if nothing happened. As partners in the so-called “crime,” they should be held just as responsible for the pregnancy as the mothers. But the board seemed to overlook this fact.

This incident shows that discrimination still exists. Despite all the progress, a fight still lies ahead.