Football Friday takes foul turn in viral cheer battle

Lee High principal apologizes to Ribault High for cheerleaders' behavior

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Local high school cheerleaders are under fire after a video of a heated cheer battle has gone viral online.

Parents of cheerleaders at Ribault High School are upset, claiming their daughters were called a derogatory word during Friday night's football game against Lee High School.

The principal at Lee High School has since apologized and said the cheerleaders will be reprimanded. 

Parents told News4Jax on Wednesday that the cheer battles are becoming common during football games. But the problem with Friday's incident is that the Lee High School cheerleaders are accused of using a disparaging term for women at the end of a cheer when referring to cheerleaders at Ribault High School. 

In the 2-minute video being shared on social media, the Ribault cheerleaders start the cheer battle off and shortly after they finish, the Lee cheerleaders fire back.

What parents claim they said at the end of their cheer has them disgusted, calling the behavior unacceptable. 

"I said, 'Do you think that was appropriate?" And she said, 'They didn't use the H-* word, they just use the 'Oh,'" parent Samantha Dixon said. "I said, 'Clearly, it was the H-* word because I was standing right here."

Ribault parents approached Lee's cheer coaches, saying the girls used an offensive word at the end of their cheer directed at Ribault's squad. 

According to parents, Lee's coaches denied that accusation, saying the cheerleaders said "Oh," and never cursed.

Parents took their concerns to Lee's principal.

"I did reach out to the principal," Dixon said. "At that point, it took him a couple days to respond. He did reach out and says he sincerely apologizes and he disciplined the cheerleaders."

In an email shared with News4Jax, the Lee High School principal issued an apology to Ribault for the cheerleading squad's behavior. The principal also wrote in the email that the cheerleaders would be "punished" for not acting like Lee Generals. 

"If I were a parent of a Lee cheerleader, I would have a conversation with the coach.That's unacceptable. I wouldn't want my child degrading another child," Dixon said. "We have enough to deal with. Youth have enough to deal with than to have to be rivalry-out. I can see the hurt in some of the cheerleaders' faces when it was said."

When reached for comment, Duval County Public Schools said it is investigating the video.

In the meantime, parents told News4Jax that the principal at Ribault is planning to discuss "cheer battling" rules further with cheerleaders during Wednesday night's practice. 

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