Daily Dispatches
Kountze High School cheerleaders paint a banner before a football game.
Associated Press/ Photo by Dave Ryan/The Beaumont Enterprise
Kountze High School cheerleaders paint a banner before a football game.

Texas cheerleaders’ free speech battle heads into overtime

Religious Liberty

Just when a group of Texas high school cheerleaders thought their fight for free speech was over, their school district has decided to go on offense. Kountze Independent School District has decided to appeal a state judge’s ruling that allowed the girls to paint Bible verses on run-through banners.

Earlier this month, State District Judge Steve Thomas determined that no law “prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events.” 

Before that, the district, in response to a letter of complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, forbade the squad from further use of scripture—like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”—on its banners. The squad fought back, with help from The Liberty Institute, and won its case in court.

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But now the school district’s attorney says the squad’s legal team read more rights into the judge’s decision than they should have.

“The school district believes that it is in everyone’s best interest to seek clarification rather than subject the district to additional costly litigation in the future,” Tom Brandt told The Beaumont Enterprise. “The school board’s decision to appeal was not made lightly, particularly given the fact that the district court’s order actually granted some of the relief the school district sought, namely, that Kountze ISD is not required to prohibit religious-themed banners at school sporting events.”

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, criticized the district for continuing to spend taxpayer money on unnecessary litigation.

“I do not understand why the school district cannot simply accept that it lost and move on instead of continuing to fight against these cheerleaders who simply wanted to encourage the players with uplifting messages,” he said.

Read more of WORLD’s coverage of the Kountze cheerleaders’ fight for free speech.

Whitney Williams
Whitney Williams

Whitney happily serves WORLD as web editorial assistant. When she's not working from her home office in Texas, she's probably fishing or hunting with her husband.


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