Diocese of Rockville Centre says National Anthem protests forbidden at schools and sporting events

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, Long Island (WABC) -- The Stars and Stripes rippled in the warm breeze over Holy Trinity High School Thursday night, where students were reminded this week of the longstanding policy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

When the National Anthem is performed at school events like graduation ceremonies, the Diocese, which runs the school, says protest is forbidden.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre says: "...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... We ask our students also to recognize that failure to abide by this policy may result in serious disciplinary action."

The Diocese, which also runs St. John the Baptist in West Islip and McGann-Mercy in Riverhead, is looking to discourage in all three schools protests like the ones staged at professional football games last weekend by players and team owners.

But one parent who asked not to appear on camera says it's heavy-handed. The parent thinks that students should be discouraged, but not forbidden. Reaction on Facebook was swift.

"I agree with the rule and have no problem with the school enforcing their rule," one woman wrote. "Discipline is one reason parents send their children to private schools."

"You can have and teach your child discipline and respect," said another, "without being forced to do something you don't believe in at the moment."

Legal experts say because the schools are private the policy does not violate the Constitution. Whether students look to challenge it remains to be seen.
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.