A high school decided to warn students of the implications of chanting the popular phrase, traditionally associated with national pride, during sporting events as it may offend students of “different ethnicities.” The warning isn’t an outright ban, and such chants are considered appropriate in certain circumstances, instead students are encouraged to “think through their decisions” before participating.
As reported by the Daily Mail, students and parents of Vista del Lago high school in Folsom, California, were notified about the use of the “USA” chant on Thursday.
Lori Emmington, the school’s principal, said that the chant is appropriate in some situations, such as after the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem. But, she suggested that the chant may lead to an “unintended message” when used during school sporting events.
The email Emmington sent to parents said, “During an athletic event, when Vista fans are in a competitive environment and cheering their school pride, chanting USA might be confusing.”
In the email discussing the chat, she went on to ask, “What is the intent, and is it open to misinterpretation? What would be the purpose at a sporting event?”
Chanting USA hasn’t been banned by the school. Instead, the school staff hopes students will “think through their decisions before choosing how to express themselves.”
The warning is a response to recent guidance from the California Interscholastic Federation which cited “rising concerns” about the use of USA chants by students at sporting events.
During a game last year, a group comprised of white fans, who were waving Donald Trump and Betsy Ross flags featuring 13 stars, chanted “USA” throughout the sporting event. The game was against a predominately black high school.
Those actions lead the associated sporting conference to ban the chant during the game.
After Emmington announced the topic at school, many students were confused by the apparent warning and complained to their parents who, in turn, contacted the school. That prompted Emmington to send an email to families in an effort to clarify the issue.
In the email, Emmington referenced situations where the use of the USA chant appeared to be aggressive and not patriotic, saying, “At some schools throughout the country the subject of patriotic chants has recently and increasingly caused concern in different communities after allegations that students were inappropriately taunting athletic opponents of different ethnicities.”
She did assert that no such complaint was lodged against Vista del Lago.
Emmington continued, “However, in our ongoing efforts to promote sportsmanship, empathy, and kindness, we have recently started a conversation with our students to ensure they fully think through their decisions before choosing how to express themselves.”
The email received a mixed response. Some suggested that chanting “USA” helped unify students. Senior Ryan Bernal stated, “To say USA, you know, we’re all the same. We’re all American/ It doesn’t matter what your skin tone is or where you’re from.”
Others said they were “disgusted” by the warning. A former Marine said, “Last time I looked, this is still the United States of America where you say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the National Anthem and pray to the God of your choice (or none for non-believers).
“We need to stop worrying about offending an individual and listen to the majority.”
Shawn Huitt responded over social media, writing, “Unintended message? What, I love my country? I am proud to be an American? Seriously?”
Even former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh joined the conversation, implying the school administrators were “cupcakes.”
The majority of the confusion centered on the fact that, in most cases, the students on both sides are American, leaving some to wonder if school administrators were being overly cautious.