Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Of Church And State And Cheerleaders

MASCOUTAH, Ill. - The Mascoutah School District may have crossed the line separating church and state when told its junior varsity cheer squad that it can't compete in state cheer competition because it is on a Sunday. School district rules prohibit student activities and athletic practices on Sundays and after 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

Superintendent Sam McGowan said the rule is meant to set aside time for students to be with their families and attend religious services, but it is not meant to support any specific religion or faith.

Mascoutah's varsity cheer squad will still compete in the tournament, the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association championship, because the varsity competition is on a Saturday. There is no word on whether the junior varsity cheerleaders or their parents will challenge the school's decision in court.

The Mascoutah School District drew national attention last November when it gave a 13-year-old middle school student detention for hugging her friends. Mascoutah is 30 miles east of St. Louis.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.