The Catholic diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island in New York has informed its high schools that protests against the national anthem are forbidden at sporting events and other school occasions.
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The diocese intends to discipline students who disobey the directive on an individual basis, reports Newsday.
“This is a reminder that all student-athletes and spectators are expected to stand during the playing of the National Anthem at school sporting events, without any gestures of demonstration or protest,” said a statement by spokesman Sean Dolan, who continued:
This is long-standing school policy and applies equally to all participants and audiences at all school events, including those that are not sporting; for example, concerts and plays. We ask our students also to recognize that failure to abide by this policy may result in serious disciplinary action.
The warning was issued to the three high schools located within the diocese, at the instruction of Bishop John Barres, in the wake of the protests by various NFL players and teams against the national anthem.
The report says that while the diocese does not ban protests in general, it does direct students to note the appropriate place and time for political expression.
“We respect the right of students and spectators to have their political and social beliefs, certainly, and to express those beliefs at appropriate times,” Dolan told Newsday. “But it’s just not appropriate to draw attention to yourself during the national anthem, which really honors the sacrifices that others have made.”
Following President Donald Trump’s criticism of players who protested the national anthem – and the angry reactions to the protests from fans throughout the country – NFL ratings have dropped dramatically.
During Thursday night’s NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, all the players stood for the anthem, though a failed attempt was made to get all the game’s attendees to interlock arms during it.