A Texas high schooler with Down syndrome, who was an honorary member of her school cheerleading team, was pulled off the squad temporarily after school officials were concerned about safety issues.
Brittany Davila, 16, has been cheerleading since junior high, and finds joy in practicing with the Deer Park High School squad – just last week, she had cheered at a volleyball game.
“Then yesterday we went and it was a different coach, and now she can’t do it because it’s a liability,” Brittany’s mother, Buffy Davila, told ABC News local affiliate KTRK.
School officials are reportedly concerned that Brittany may be injured if she is cheerleading while players are on the field, and have requested that she cheerlead only during halftime.
Buffy Davila, meanwhile, has been negotiating with school officials. “If the volleyball is going to fly off the court and hit somebody, it’s just as likely to hit somebody else as it is to hit her,” she told ABC News.
She has discussed the issue with school officials, hoping to get her daughter back in the cheerleading line during games. An agreement with the school may allow Brittany to continue cheering safely, as long as she doesn’t attempt any of the stunts other cheerleaders may do.
Deer Park ISD spokesperson Matt Lucas told KTRK that “there have been ongoing discussions with the mother…Essentially, the bottom line is the young lady is still a member of the team. She’s still an honorary member of the team.”
The school posted a statement on its website, noting that a meeting between Brittany’s parents and school officials had led to a consensus that both sides would “work together to resolve whatever issues remain. Deer Park ISD is proud to have this young lady involved in its cheer program, and we look forward to her continued success as an honorary cheerleader this year.”
Buffy Davila says she’s aware that her daughter is “different,” but that she expects her to be treated the same as other students at the school.
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, one in 691 babies are born with Down syndrome in the U.S. and every year, about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born.