A Mississippi high school student was dismissed from his football team by his coach for wearing pink cleats during October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Seventeen-year-old senior kicker Coy Sheppard is suing his school district for the dismissal. The lawsuit, which was filed last week in Simpson County Chancery Court, explains that Mendenhall High School football coach Chris Peterson had Sheppard dress down and then dismissed him from an Oct. 8 game for wearing the cleats.
The next week, Sheppard tried to go to practice wearing the cleats but was turned away by Peterson, says former state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, who is representing Coy.
Diaz explained that it is more than just getting kicked off the team, it is more about being able to graduate.
Students in Simpson County School District earn academic credit for playing a sport. Diaz said, "graduation could be in jeopardy."
Disctrict Deputy Superintendent Tom Duncan said the reason Sheppard was cut from the team was due to him ignoring the coach's orders to take the cleats off not the color of the cleats.
The cleats had a lot of meaning to Coy. They were a present from his 82-year-old great-grandmother.
JoAnne Sheppard, Coy's mother, explained that he wore them in honor of his grandmother and step-grandmother, who are both cancer survivors. JoAnne stated that Peterson "belittled" her son, adding "that's hard from someone you look up to."
All the lawsuit asks for is for Coy to be reinstated to his team, clearing of his record and for any monetary damages to go to the American Cancer Society. The school district is allowed 30 days from the Nov. 4 lawsuit filing to respond to the incident.
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