ARPH90 Faded Painted American Flag on a Crumbling Building, Calvert, Texas

Chant of “USA” Causes a Stir at a California High School

You hear it so many places – sporting events, pep rallies, you name it. A group of people will begin to chant, “USA! USA!” and more join in. It’s an exhilarating show of patriotic pride that’s inspiring to hear.

But not at Vista Del Lago High School in Folsom, California (the same town where one elementary school banned tag earlier this year). School officials there are warning that saying the initials of your home country loudly and repeatedly may appear intolerant and may not be appropriate.

Students don’t understand the fuss over the chant:

“I wasn’t angry, but I was definitely like, ‘Why can’t we chant USA?’” said senior Ryan Bernal, “To say USA, you know, we’re all the same. We’re all American. It doesn’t matter what your skin tone is or where you’re from.”

Parent’s aren’t crazy about the warning either:

Mother Natalie Woodbury said, “I want to chant USA because I want us to pull together and help, not because I want anybody to feel left out or not a part of our country. ”

The interesting thing is that the school admits that there have been no complaints against anyone for shouting USA and maintains that there is no ban against the chant. But that hasn’t stopped the handwringing at the administrative level.

The school’s principal sent out an email to families Wednesday and relayed the same message to students over the school’s P.A. system, clarifying any confusion. She told students and parents that sometimes “We can communicate an unintended message.” She also said USA chanting is welcome, but it may be best to do it at what she says are appropriate times, like following the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance.

Of course, what’s missing from the discussion is the obvious: patriotic kids chanting because they love their country doesn’t necessarily or automatically leave citizens of any other country out or direct hatred toward another nation. Chanting “USA” is about love for America, not disdain for, say, Scotland or Djibouti or Paraguay or Sri Lanka. It’s certainly no cause for concern or for issuing needless warnings.

The theme of this weekend’s game at Vista Del Lago is “American Pride,” so there’s no doubt you’ll hear plenty of chanting and expressions of patriotism and unity. I’m sure school administrators won’t be able to enjoy the game for their constant sense of worry. And that’s a shame.

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Chris Queen

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