BRADENTON, Fla. - NFL players have taken a knee during the national anthem, and now some Manatee High School students want students to have the same right.
Leah Tiberini used a social media campaign to help organize a protest in front of the Manatee County School Board building Tuesday afternoon. They launched a Facebook page called “Defend the Right to Take a Knee Manatee” and in a week more than 100 people showed interest.
Several dozen people showed up for the demonstration, and about half appeared to be students.
Not standing for the anthem became an issue last week when the school district reminded coaches and administrators of the student code of conduct. The code states that everyone is to stand during the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem unless they have written permission from their parents to sit or kneel.
Tiberini says, “Kneeling during anthem signifies the anthem no longer supports us or supports the black community even in Manatee County.”
Tiberini, 17, a senior at Manatee High School, says taking a knee during the national anthem doesn’t disrespect our military.
“I am the child of a veteran," she says. "My dad supports my cause.”
In a statement, Manatee County School District officials say “The Code of Student Conduct complies with all statutory requirements that include requiring a student to stand for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem unless excused in writing by a parent.”
So if students have a way to opt out, why protest?
"Children do not have to have the permission of a parent to protect because everyone born in this country has the freedom of kneeling," Tiberini says. "If a parent has a different view, then it shouldn’t be imposed on their children.”
A spokesperson for the school says while he doesn't know what the school board will do, but he doubts there will be any major changes to the policy since students do have a way to opt out.
As for Tiberini, she says she's heard some hateful comments from other students and even lost a few friends, but she stands by her beliefs.