TX school district denies student was removed from cheerleading squad over gay kiss

Last Friday we told you about a male cheerleader at Alice High School in South Texas who said he’d been kicked off the squad — and suspended from school — for kissing another male student. The 17-year-old cheerleader said the kiss was caught on a school surveillance camera, and he claimed officials had targeted him because of his sexual orientation.

This afternoon, the Alice Independent School District released a statement saying the student’s removal from the cheerleading squad will remain in effect. The district said the student wasn’t removed from the squad for kissing another student. However, citing privacy concerns, the district says it cannot elaborate on the reason for his removal. Here’s the full text of the statement sent via email to Instant Tea (view the PDF here):

The Alice I.S.D. has recently reviewed the recent removal of a student from the Alice High School Cheerleading Squad. After reviewing the Alice I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct and the Cheer Program Handbook, the removal will stay in effect. The student’s parents are in agreement with the district’s decision. The student code of conduct and cheer handbook are designed to improve conduct and encourage students to adhere to their responsibilities as members of the school community. The student and parents are clearly aware that the student was not removed from the squad for kissing another student at school. While the student is free to discuss certain aspects of his discipline in the media, the District cannot discuss the specifics of this incident and must respect the privacy rights of the students involved in this matter.

The district’s statement today is similar to one released by the school principal late Friday, according to KRISTV.com:

In a written statement given to Six News, Principal Lucy Munoz stated “the district does not suspend students for kissing other students at school, regardless of the gender of the student.” However, the statement did not list a specific reason for the student’s suspension. The statement went on to say that the district is still reviewing the matter, but added that the “Cheer Program Handbook requires students to adhere to a higher standard of conduct than that which applies to the general student population.”

—  John Wright

WATCH: Male cheerleader at TX high school kicked off squad, suspended over gay kiss

A male cheerleader at Alice High School in South Texas has been kicked off the squad and suspended from school for kissing another male student. The 17-year-old senior said the kiss was caught on a surveillance camera in the high school’s band hall, leading him to believe he was being monitored because of his sexual orientation. KRISTV.com in Corpus Christi reports:

The young man spent countless hours practicing every day for years to make the varsity cheer squad, and he had it all taken away from him in an instant.

Perhaps most surprising, is the way the student was caught. Not in person by a teacher, but by surveillance camera, leading the young man to believe he was being watched and targeted by school officials simply because of his sexual orientation.

“They never check cameras for anything unless something is stolen,” the young man said, asking not be identified. “We would be the ones getting caught because I’m sure we were the only ones, sexual orientation wise, being caught like that.”

The boy said public displays of affection are a relatively common occurrence at Alice HS, and he believes that the principal would not have targeted him had he been caught kissing a female student.

“In this school [kissing] is everywhere, if that were the case, suspending everyone for that, half the school would be suspended,” he said.

The student’s family says it was told the principal’s decision to suspend him for two days and kick him off the cheerleading squad is under review. If the student isn’t reinstated to the cheerleading squad, the family plans further action. According to the school’s website, Principal Lucy Munoz can be reached at 361-664-0126. District Superintendent Salvador Cavazos can be reached at drscavazos@aliceisd.net.

Watch the video report below.

—  John Wright

Cheer we go!

IMG_0236
DANCING IN THE STREETS | Dallas Pride Cheer marches in last year’s Texas Freedom Parade, but will debut a new act at Razzle Dazzle, before moving to a national showcase in San Francisco next month. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Pride Cheer gets its razzle dazzling — for Dallas and San Francisco

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer
jeftingley@sbcglobal.net

As anyone who’s ever played a team sport can tell you, even the bleakest of losing streaks has been brightened by the erratic pom-poms and endless effervescence of a cheerleading squad. But the perkiest of cheerleaders still needs their own support system from time to time.

That’s the case with Dallas Pride Cheer, a local, mostly gay group who use their powers of pep not for sports but by performing at parades and other events to raise money for charitable causes, including Make-A-Wish, Bryan’s House and AIDS Arms.

On June 25 and 26, the all-volunteer squad will boost not a team, but our city by taking their talents to San Francisco for Pride Parade weekend. There, they will join other teams from around the world for a series of performances benefiting the Cheer for Life Foundation, a
nonprofit that supports agencies around the globe that provide services to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other ailments.

“We currently have 14 people from our 24-person squad going to represent Dallas,” says team captain Bobby Bridgwater, a former UNT cheerleader who parlayed his love of the sport into the nonprofit organization. “Everyone’s been working very hard to create the perfect routine and to raise money to travel to California.”

To help fund travel expenses, Dallas Pride Cheer is hosting a car wash on Saturday in the Caven parking lot, behind Zini’s Pizza Throckmorton.

In preparation for San Francisco and the many other local events they participate in, the group practices every Sunday at Pride All-Star Gym in Carrollton. Members range in age from 20 to 51, with a variety of backgrounds as current and former cheerleaders, athletes and coaches. And they are always looking for more.

“We are always looking for new talent to add to our group,” says Bridgwater. “Depending on the person’s experience we can plug [someone] into a routine. It’s best if we find someone with knowledge of technique, tumbling and stunting. As a group, we are always pushing new stunts, new basket tosses and so on. It’s a whole year of learning as a group.”

The routine Dallas Cheer Pride performs in San Francisco will be repeated in Dallas in September during the Alan Ross Freedom Parade. But those interested in seeing the squad sooner can check them out during this year’s Razzle Dazzle Dallas, which kicks off June 1.

“Razzle Dazzle is what we have been putting together for the past year,” says Bridgwater. “In addition to our cheer portion is a new, fun dance routine. You won’t see it anywhere else. It’s just something for us to shake it and have fun.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas