WVPA Sharing

Senate President Craig Blair issues statement on behalf of Senate Majority Caucus regarding Harrison County Schools decision to suspend student-athletes from competition

West Virginia Press Association

We condemn Harrison County Schools for taking punitive action against five student-athletes who chose to exercise their right to “step out” of their recent track and field event to protest unfair competition in a sport, the risk of their personal safety, and the court decision that allowed a male to compete against them. The rules that govern the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission specifically outline the procedure for addressing a team or student who leaves a playing field in protest, including the consequences of those protest actions. Despite that procedure being clearly defined in the Code of State Rules, Harrison County Schools unilaterally decided to punish these female students by prohibiting them from competing in their next track meet. 

By refusing to adhere to these standards, Harrison County Schools is showing a galling lack of concern for the free-speech considerations of those students, as well as the safety of those students, because of unfair competition with males. Furthermore, they’re sending a message to counties across the state that it’s acceptable to disregard process when it suits a particular political agenda. 

We thank the Attorney General for filing a brief with the Harrison County Circuit Court in support of these students and we hope that no other counties will choose to unfairly silence the voices of girls who choose to peacefully protest when they feel wronged and their safety is disregarded.

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