Today, Thursday, February 25, 2021, the ACUSD Board of Trustees sent the following letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom and to the California Department of Public Health to take a strong stance on behalf of the student-athletes in Amador County, California and all across the state, specifically on behalf of our cheerleaders.
The following two letters, both sent to the Governor, are from the ACUSD Board of Trustees, as well as a letter written by Serena Wagner, a cheerleader from Argonaut High School, written to Amador County Public Health:
Letter from the ACUSD Board of Trustees to Governor Newsom:
February 25, 2021
Dear Honorable Governor Gavin Newsom,
We are writing today to take a strong stance on behalf of the student-athletes in Amador County, California and all across the state, specifically on behalf of our cheerleaders. We have learned that while full-contact sports such as football are fully allowed under the new youth sports guidance issued on Friday, February 19, 2021, cheerleading is extremely limited in the scope of what they are allowed to do. We have learned that cheerleading is allowed; however, not at football games.
Dr. Rita Kerr, Amador County Public Health Officer, confirmed that the California Department of Public Health discussed and clarified this matter again during their meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. In this meeting, CDPH clarified that outdoor cheer competitions are allowed but cheerleading on the sidelines of a football game is not allowed.
In our opinion, this stance is discriminatory and could constitute a Title IX violation. Football players, who are mostly boys, can be on the field face to face and in full contact with each other, yet cheerleaders, who are mostly girls, cannot be on the sidelines masked and spaced 6 feet apart with the occasional closer encounter for a stunt? We understand that there may be concern associated with cheerleading yells and chants due to the respiratory droplets that may be involved. This conflicts with the guidance which allows choir practice outdoors.
We sincerely hope this is nothing more than a misunderstanding between your intent and CDPH's interpretation. Please take immediate action to clarify that cheerleaders are allowed to participate on the sidelines of football games with the proper safety precautions in place. We hope for quick resolution to this injustice.
The attached letter from one of our student-athletes does an excellent job of further relaying the essence of the harm and discrimination this stance is causing.
Kandi Thompson, Board President
Deborah Pulskamp, Board Clerk
James Marzano, Board Member
James Whitaker, Board Member
Julia Burns, Board Member
Letter from Serena Wagner, a cheerleader from Argonaut High School, to Amador County Public Health:
Dear Dr. Kerr,
I wish I was writing this letter in a happy manner, but I am so far from that. Yesterday, I received the news that you made the decision that cheer will not be present at the football games. After waiting a long nine months, hanging on to a small thread that I, along with my teammates, will be able to return to the field, to just be told "no" has been severely heartbreaking.
I would like to tell you a bit about myself. My name is Serena Wagner, a senior at Argonaut High School, and a captain of the Varsity cheerleading team. I have been born and raised in Amador County, and feel very blessed to call it my home. Nothing brings me joy quite like cheerleading does. The adrenaline rush during halftime performances, representing my school, being a role model for young girls who one day aspire to be in my position, the small town love, and so much more. I first started cheering for the Argonaut Jr. Mustangs when I was ten, and I instantly fell in love with it, but being a part of the high school team has been my biggest honor, and largest accomplishment.
On February 19, the school received the news that the restrictions on youth sports had been lifted and loosened, meaning football had the green light to play. I was at lunch at this time, in a room full of Varsity football players, and members of my team, and I instantly burst in the happiest of tears one could cry. I was going to be able to cheer one last year, the best news I have heard in a VERY long time. The wait was finally worth it, I wasn't wasting time showing up to practices, completely unsure if I was ever returning to doing what I love. I was finally happy, and you snatched it away from so many girls (and boys) in our county.
If you think that your decision is for the betterment of our guidelines, and our community, you are very mistaken. The only thing you are doing is ripping us away from something very important to not only the cheer team, but members of the schools, and the community. Football and cheerleading come as a unit, we are one. Where the football team goes, the cheer team goes, and it has been that way for decades. What you are doing is discriminating, and sexist. I speak for all members of my team when I say we are all very hurt and heartbroken. Growing up in such a small, knit together community, you would think that someone would have our backs on this. Once again, we are left in the dark, but I am beyond tired of sitting in silence. Our voices will not go unheard.
Perhaps you need some help with finding alternatives. We were told "It is all about the numbers" when it came down to ruling why our county cheer teams cannot be present at this year's games. Instead, you should limit the amount of spectators. Do you really think there isn't any room for some odd twenty girls to socially distance outside with masks on? Our track has the room for it, and so does Amador's. If us yelling is your main concern for causing potential spread, eliminate it. I'm not sure what your knowledge is about cheerleading, but we don't just stand on the sideline and yell. We could shake our pom poms, jump up and down, and dance on the sideline, all without yelling. There really is no reason as to why we can't even just stand there. I would rather do that than be told no altogether. How sad is that? We are so desperate to return to our sport, we will gladly do the bare minimum.
With this letter, I challenge you to really open your heart, eyes, and mind, to really dig down deep and see how you are hurting us. l speak for every single cheerleader when I say I hope you can change your mind. As Argonaut's motto states, "Have the Courage to Compete,” l ask you to have the courage to stand up for us, the future, the young women of this county.
Argonaut High School
You can view the letters to Governor Newsom on the ACUSD website: https://amadorcoe.org/cheerleading-letter-to-governor-cdph/