VHSL responds to concerns about events at Liberty

Published 7:40 am Monday, December 28, 2015

The Virginia High School League (VHSL) hosts state-level high school athletic and academic events each year at a number of college and university venues around the area. 

“Liberty University has been an approved venue for league events by express action of the VHSL Executive Committee for many years, and the designated 2016 events of debate, 3A/4A indoor track and 3A/4A Spring Jubilee are engaged by contractual agreements,” a VHSL release stated.

Recent highly publicized comments by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. encouraging Liberty students to carry concealed weapons to “end those Muslims” have raised alarm among numerous VHSL members. 

“Some schools have expressed concern regarding the safety of their students on Liberty’s campus, and some have threatened to boycott the state debate championship in protest of the comments by Falwell,” the release stated.

“VHSL staff and leadership take those concerns seriously and, together with appropriate law enforcement officials, will initiate a process of evaluating the safety of students when participating in VHSL events in light of these controversial comments.”

VHSL said it respects the right of Liberty’s president to engage in public speech, “and will not take retaliatory action against the university even when that speech is found to be offensive by a significant number of VHSL member schools and their students.”

“Nevertheless, VHSL places the highest value on the safety and security of its students, and takes steps to ensure that all students engaging in VHSL activities are afforded the opportunity to participate in an environment free from harassment, personal threat, or physical or mental harm,” the release stated.

If these essential freedoms cannot be guaranteed to VHSL participants, VHSL will re-evaluate the propriety of using Liberty’s facilities for its events in the future, the release said.