Cheer Down

Published August 10, 2011

Federal constitutional lawsuits against two school districts by the parents of girls who failed to make their high school cheerleading squads were dismissed recently.

Three Tennessee girls were kicked off their school’s cheerleading squad after they admitted to underage drinking. They sued the district, alleging they were actually removed because they wore “racy” costumes to a Halloween party and that deprived them of their First Amendment rights to free speech and free association, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. A Tennessee federal district court judge dismissed the case, agreeing with the district “there is no constitutional right to participate in high school athletics.”

In Texas, a federal appellate court dismissed a case brought by the mother of a girl trying out for the cheerleading squad who was called a “ho” by another candidate. The target alleged the comment was sexual harassment, but the court rejected this claim. “Reduced to its essentials, this is nothing more than a dispute, fueled by a disgruntled cheerleader mom, over whether her daughter should have made the squad. It is a petty squabble, masquerading as a civil rights matter, that has no place in federal court or any other court,” the ABA Journal reported.

Source: Kate Harrison, “Ooltewah cheerleaders’ lawsuit dismissed,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, August 2, 2011 via; Debra Cassens Weiss, “5th Circuit Tosses Cheerleading Suit, Hits Law Firm for Grammar and Spelling Errors,” ABA Journal, July 18, 2011