A high school volleyball cheerleader is going to have to show her support for her team, not from the courtside with the other pom-pom waving girls, but from up in the bleachers. Deer Park High School, in Texas, is telling a 16-year-old student who suffers from Down syndrome to take a seat, reports the Inquisitor on Sept. 26.
Brittany Davila, a freshman at Deer Park High School, was overjoyed that she was named an honorary cheerleader on the all-girl squad. Her father said she has been working extremely hard over the summer and was just told she cannot represent her school with her teammates on the sidelines.
“It was heartbreaking to hear that she is a cheerleader, but yet she won’t cheer with any of the other girls,” said father Ruben Davila.
Ruben feels the school is unfairly discriminating against his daughter. He said the school told him that having Brittany on the sidelines was a “liability,” even though she has previously been on the court with the other girls during games and proven that she can handle the cheer routine.
“If it’s a liability for her why wouldn’t it be for anyone else?” Ruben asked.
On Tuesday, Brittany showed up for the game in full uniform, but was told to stay in the stands.
Brittany’s mom, Buffy Davila, said Brittany cheered at one volleyball game, “Then yesterday we went and it was a different coach, and now she can’t do it because it’s a liability?” says Buffy.
“She doesn’t understand why they’re telling her she can’t do it,” Buffy said. “And I don’t know how to explain it to her.”
Dad Ruben echoed his wife’s frustrations.
“She didn’t understand what changed from last week to this week,” Ruben said, adding that Brittany was still good-natured, cheering her team on from up in the bleachers. “She was cheering along with them in the stands. She was excited, waving at them and blowing kisses.”
When the Deer Park Independent School District was questioned, they replied they would not answer any questions on specific students due to federal law, but did pass along this statement:
“There are apparently rumors going around that [Brittany]was cut from the squad, but this is not true. She’s STILL an honorary member of the squad, and we are honored to have her involved in the program. Several of our high school team members met with the child’s parents this afternoon… Both sides left with a better understanding of the other's concerns and position. There was also an agreement to work together to resolve whatever issues might remain.”
Perhaps there is some sort of liability issue, but shouldn’t school officials have made that clear from the outset when bringing Brittany on? The Davilas say Brittany has been cheering throughout her junior high school years, and there has never been a problem before.