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Rep. Al Edwards: Schools monitoring 'suggestive' performances by groups

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

It's September in Texas. And besides 100-degree temperatures, that means one thing - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL!

Break out the cheerleaders, the drill teams, the majorettes and the bands. But before you do, perhaps a little locker room "pep talk" is in order not only for the football team.

Although not able to pass a House bill relating to regulating sexually suggestive performances by school-sponsored groups, Rep. Al Edwards (D-Houston) fended off coast-to-coast criticism and being the butt of jokes on national TV to finally pass a House resolution addressing the subject.

Now, with football season in full swing and these groups planning performances during football games and other upcoming sporting events during the school year, the effects of HR 2010 can be measured.

Edwards notes his resolution accomplishes the same thing that his House bill would have done - requesting that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) address what he sees as a "problem" of sexually suggestive moves and performances by school-sponsored dance and performance groups in Texas middle schools and high schools.

You will recall that when the bill came up for floor debate in the House, some members brought pom-poms to the House floor and hip-hop music wafted into the chamber. Edwards notes that despite the mocking, Texas lawmakers "ultimately decided to do the right thing."

Edwards said he met recently with TEA Commissioner Shirley Neeley to discuss the resolution, and that the commissioner already has taken action to "resolve this growing problem in Texas."

That action was a letter from Neeley to all regional directors of area schools and to school superintendents throughout the state. In the letter, Neeley notes that this is a local control issue, and she urged school administrators with meet with their local faculty sponsors of these dance and performance groups "in order to ensure that they understand the importance of monitoring extracurricular activities, preventing inappropriate performances, and applying appropriate disciplinary action if necessary."

Neeley points out that although the resolution does not offer a definition of exactly what constitutes "overly sexually suggestive performances," she urged school officials to use their "professional, sound judgment and good old-fashioned common sense" to determine their own local definition of the term.

The commissioner warned, however, that if the issue is not resolved at the local level, local school officials will leave themselves open for further state action and monitoring of what should be a local issue.

In an August interview with USA Today, Edwards defended his legislation, noting that "schools across the country are now 'drawing the line on suggestive moves' made in performances by school children during school sponsored events."