Schools make the rules when it comes to student-athlete protests

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As the NFL controversy surrounding professional athletes kneeling during the National Anthem grows louder, Bay Area school districts are taking a more quiet approach ahead of high school football games Thursday and Friday.

Several school districts referred us to their student codes of conduct, which vary by county.

In Hillsborough County, the code says students "have the right to show love for their country." It also says they "have the right to refrain from taking part in a patriotic ceremony."

In Manatee County, the student code says "all students will stand for the National Anthem," except those who "are excused with a letter from their parents." 

NFL players are protected by the First Amendment, but the rights of people under 18 are less clear.

Stetson Law Professor Catherine Cameron says there is case law to indicate that kids under 18 do have First Amendment rights, but courts have also said that schools have a right to curtail that freedom if it interferes with teaching.

Some student-athletes could be penalized for interference before the games begin.

Many high schools are playing Thursday instead of Friday because of Yom Kippur.