A California high school stirred up controversy after students were told not to chant “USA” during sporting events and rallies.
Students at Vista Del Lago High School in Folsom, California, often chanted “USA” as a way to show pride during games and rallies. Now, school officials have asked that the students not chant, as it could come across as intolerant.
“I wasn’t angry, but I was definitely like, ‘Why can’t we chant USA?’” senior Ryan Bernal told KOVR. “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.”
Staff at the high school brought the topic to students’ attention during a leadership class.
Daniel Thigpen, the Folsom Cordova Unified Communications Director, said, “To practice empathy, to practice kindness and to practice patriotism. You can do both.”
KOVR noted that in some schools across the country, the “USA” chant has been used in a derogatory manner toward people of different ethnicities.
“There’s a time and a place to yell that and cheer that,” said Mike Garrison of the California Interscholastic Federation.
The principal of Vista Del Lago High School sent an email to district families relaying the warning against the chant — a warning which was also given to students over the school’s P.A. system. The principal said that sometimes by using the chant, “We can communicate an unintended message.”
The principal added that the USA chant is welcome, but only at appropriate times, such as following the Pledge of Allegiance or after the national anthem.
“I want to chant USA because I want us to pull together and help, not because I want anybody to feel left out or not a part of our country,” said mother Natalie Woodbury.
District officials clarified that there is no ban on chanting “USA.”
Readers shared their thoughts on the story on Facebook.
“It is principals like this one that is little by little destroying our public schools and that is SAD!” one reader commented. “Be thankful the students were attending their schools sporting events and voiced their love for our country, the Grand Old USA. Shame on the Leadership of that school.”
“Intolerable and offensive?” another user wrote. “Are you serious! You kids chant USA AS loud as you can! Thank the Lord for you kids! Hold your ground to your 1st Ammendment God given right! We’re all so proud of you all! God Bless you all!!”