Cheerleading is supposed to provide positive reinforcement to athletic teams, not to poke fun at groups outside of sports. At least, not usually.
The cheerleader program at Redlands East Valley High School in Redlands, Calif., is under indefinite suspension after a picture on social media went viral. The picture includes team members wearing baggy clothes, throwing up gang signs, displaying fake weapons and pretending to be pregnant.
The mockery was posted on a cheerleader's Instagram page and made its way to a community group's Facebook page Tuesday -- the same day as Redlands East Valley's freshmen orientation. The posted photo reportedly had 200 comments within an hour.
School Principal John Maloney said at a community meeting Wednesday the team asked for and was granted permission by advisers "to dress up in gang attire." The photo was taken during "Spirit Day," a team-building exercise. When the principal heard of the negative response from the photo, he immediately asked the team to take down the photo. Cooperation was swift from the cheerleaders, and Maloney said the suspension is temporary.
But Maloney, the Redlands Unified School District and other administrators must determine how to address a series of written rules being broken. The photo appears to show a girl holding a fake gun and a girl with a knife in her sock. Both objects make the possessor subject to expulsion if brought on school grounds.
According to Redlands Daily Facts, the community meeting featured discussion on preaching tolerance within the school district and improving such awareness among students. Elyzaveth Green, a Redlands Police and Community Service Officer present at the meeting, believes the high school has a long way to go.
“From what I have been told, this was not an isolated incident,” the officer said.
In a statement from district superintendent Lori Rhodes, she referred to the image as "offensive" and said such portrayal "will not be tolerated."
Among Redlands East Valley's famous alumni are U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan, Eagles running back Chris Polk and Rockies pitcher Tyler Chatwood.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.