All Brittany Davila wanted to do was cheer on her team.
The 16-year-old high school freshman from Deer Park, Texas, who has Down syndrome and is a seasoned cheerleader, was told she would have to do what she loves from the sidelines.
"She cheered last week at the volleyball game," Brittany's mother, Buffy Davila, told KTRK. "Then yesterday we went and it was a different coach, and now she can't do it because it's a liability."
Davila, who has been a cheerleader throughout junior high school and was recently made an honorary member of Deer Park High School’s squad, has been told she will no longer be allowed to participate while players are on the field or court.
“It was heartbreaking to hear that she is a cheerleader, but yet she won’t cheer with any of the other girls,” her father, Ruben Davila, told KHOU 11. “If it’s a liability for her why wouldn’t it be for anyone else?”
According to Davila’s father, his daughter showed up to cheer at a volleyball game on Tuesday when she was told by school officials to sit in the stands. “She didn’t understand what changed from last week to this week,” he said. “She was cheering along with them in the stands. She was excited, waving at them and blowing kisses.”
After the story made headlines, Matt Lucas, a spokesman for the Deer Park Independent School District, issued a statement. “There are apparently rumors going around that she was cut from the squad, but this is not true. She’s STILL an honorary member of the squad, and we are honored to have her involved in the program,” he wrote.
“Several of our high school team members met with the child’s parents this afternoon. Again, while I can’t comment on the specifics of that meeting, I can say that our principal indicated that both sides left with a better understanding of the other’s concerns and position. There was also an agreement to work together to resolve whatever issues might remain.”
The Davilas said the 90-minute school meeting resolved any safety concerns the administration had. "She's no more of a safety risk, or however you want to word it, than any of the other cheerleaders that are standing on the sideline," Davila told Click2Houston.
"These kids are people, just like everybody else," she added. "They don't want to be treated different. They want to be treated just like the rest of the kids that are around them."