A protest prior to the Tuesday’s Licking Heights 8th grade girls’ basketball game is stirring controversy.
In photos posted to social media, several members of the team can be seen kneeling.
While some posts accuse the team of disrespecting the flag and the national anthem, the parents of one player said those perceptions are false.
“My dad was a veteran,” said Rokeidra Currie. “He served for 18 years in the U.S. Navy. I personally would not allow my daughter to do anything that would blatantly disrespect the flag.”
Currie, who said her daughter was one of those who briefly knelt prior to the national anthem, said the protest was in response to repeated acts of racism the team has seen and heard from some opposing fans.
“Throughout the season, they have been facing a lot of racial disparities,” she said. “They’ve been called racial slurs.”
Santino Torres, the father of Currie’s daughter, said racial slurs and threats have also been sent via social media.
He has since filed a report with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
A spokesman there said the complaint remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, Currie and Torres said they want the school district to address the issue as well.
“I want to hear that they’re going to take care of it and I want to know that the people that are involved that are discriminating against our kids are being held accountable for their actions,” said Torres.
Licking Heights Local Schools Superintendent Philip Wagner issued the following statement:
A snapshot in time of our middle school athletes yesterday evening has been quickly misconstrued in social media. Nonetheless, this affords us an opportunity to discuss sportsmanship and how we interact with one another both on and off the court.
“We are aware of the diversity issues we face as our community continues to grow, change and evolve. Our athletic department is using this instance as a teachable moment for our student-athletes. This is [sic] an ongoing discussion both within the school district and within our athletic league as we engage with other school districts.
Currie emphasizes not all opposing fans have directed slurs at her daughter’s team.
Nonetheless, she said she will support her daughter’s right to protest.
“I wouldn’t let her do anything that would blatantly disrespect the flag or this country, but I will definitely support her in protest,” she said.
I’m lilD, and that’s the Word Eye Heard. So people are worried about kids “disrespecting” the flag and the country, but not about people in the country disrespecting these kids..? Mkay.