I haven't written a cheer and the law post since last July, but I've been working on a research project that touched on cheerleading this week, so it seems like a good time to post. First, the question of whether cheerleading qualifies as a sport under Title IX has been addressed by the courts, and now Title IX legal scholars are beginning to pay attention to this issue. Erin Buzuvis just published, The Feminist Case for the NCAA’s Recognition of Competitive Cheer as an Emerging Sport for Women, in the Boston College Law Review.
In the constitutional law context, the recent case of Doe v. Silsbee Independent School District has raised some questions about the intersection between cheerleading and the Court's jurisprudence on K-12 student expression and the First Amendment. I assisted with some research on this case earlier this week, and the facts could not be more disturbing. A Silsbee High School student and cheerleader, known as H.S. in court papers, attended a party and alleged that she was sexually assaulted by several high school classmates. During a basketball game, H.S. refused to cheer individually for one of her alleged attackers, although she continued to participate in cheers for the team. School officials ordered her to participate in cheers for this individual, H.S. refused, and she was dismissed from the cheerleading squad. Her parents sued, and thus far, the federal courts have refused to entertain their Section 1983 claim on behalf of H.S. In the latest action in this case, their attorney has recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll be watching to see whether the Court grants this petition.