A high school in Louisiana is one of several campuses across the US warning student-athletes that they will be disciplined if they refuse to stand for the national anthem during sporting events.
Parkway High School's principal issued the directive Thursday, ordering student-athletes to stand during the national anthem or risk loss of playing time and removal from the team.
The school's order comes in the wake of President Trump calling on the NFL to bar players from kneeling during the national anthem, further fueling days of partisan furor involving NFL players, owners, and coaches along with military veterans, brands, bars, companies, and lawmakers.
Now, schools across the US are grappling with how to handle students involved in national anthem protests that were sparked when Trump called any NFL player who knelt to protest police brutality, "a son of a bitch."
While Parkway High School is one of the few institutions to explicitly cite disciplinary actions for protesting students, other school officials have also called on their students to show respect during the national anthem.
"Our principals and their coaching staffs have sole discretion in determining consequences should a student athlete elect not to stand during the National Anthem," Superintendent Scott Smith of Bossier Parish Schools, the district in which Parkway High School is located, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.
"In Bossier Parish, we believe when a student chooses to join and participate on a team, the players and coaches should stand when our National Anthem is played in a show of respect," Smith said, adding that he would provide "full support" to schools that decide to discipline students for protesting during the national anthem.
"It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right, and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans," Smith said. "It is an honor for Bossier Schools to pay homage to the American flag and stand during the National Anthem."
A spokesperson for Bossier Parish Schools told BuzzFeed News that other high school principals in the district were sending out letters to student athletes and their families, "making their expectations known as it pertains to proper decorum when the National Anthem is played at sporting events."
Parkway High School did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Bossier High Principal David Thrash, told the Shreveport Times "we stand for the national anthem.
"I don’t foresee any problems with our students because they know what is expected of them," he added.
Thrash did not specify if the school had issued a directive on standing during the national anthem, or if there would be any disciplinary action for those who don't.
"If we go through a run-through before the game, everybody does the run-through,” Thrash told the Times. "I’m sure there’ll be some kids somewhere who will want to call attention to themselves. But we won’t let someone dictate to us. We have high expectations at our school."
Ginger Gustavson, the principal of Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, also told the paper that her school expected "respectful behavior" during school activities, including singing the national anthem.
"We actually have our student leaders model this respectful behavior as part of our Camp Gator orientation," Gustavson told the Times. "Our student athletes have shown respect and I expect that they will continue to do so. But with anything, we always address any issues in a personal way....listening and communicating with our students."
Bossier High officials and Gustavson did not return BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Colorado Christian University said it was school policy for all athletes to stand during the national anthem.
“The racial issues facing this country are serious and racial reconciliation should be a priority for all Americans,” Jeff Hunt, director of CCU’s Centennial Institute, said in a statement, the Denver Post reported. “Unfortunately, refusing to stand during the national anthem dilutes the message of the protesters and portrays disrespect towards our country, all who are serving it and our veterans.”
In a statement on Wednesday, CCU's president, Donald Sweeting, stated that this was not a new position and that the school's athletic department "has always required our student athletes and coaches to stand respectfully for any pre-game or post-game prayers, as well as for the national anthem."
"We ask students to stand out of respect for God, for our nation, and for those who are serving it or have served it," Sweeting said.
Although the university upheld students' right to dissent, Sweeting contended that athletic events were not the "appropriate venue to conduct political or social protests."
"We are saddened that our practice of standing out of respect for God and our nation is suddenly seen as divisive or strange, silencing free speech — that is not the case," he said. "We simply believe that there are other more constructive avenues for expressing dissent."
High schools and middle schools in Manatee County, Florida, also received an email warning athletic directors that it was against district rules for students not to stand for the national anthem, the Brandenton Herald reported.
Superintendent Diane Greene told Brandenton Herald that the email — which the district has used before — was sent by the athletics supervisor of the school district, Jason Montgomery.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the School District of Manatee County cited the student code of conduct, which says that students and all civilians "shall stand at attention" when the national anthem is played.
“In regards to standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, the School District of Manatee County complies with both Federal Statute 36 U.S. Code § 301 and Florida Statute § 1003.44," the statement said. "The Code of Student Conduct complies with all statutory requirements that include requiring a student to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, unless excused in writing by a parent."
"Students can be excused from standing if there is a letter from their parents indicating a specific reason why their student would not stand," Greene said on Tuesday before a school board meeting. "And, if we have that documented information, then we honor what that parent has requested."
Greene and Montgomery did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.