A Bishop Gorman, Nevada high school mother is speaking to Las Vegas-based KTNV after her son was suspended and placed on a disciplinary contract. The varsity football player had refused to stand for the National Anthem during a Veteran's Day Assembly.
"It's very emotional and I'm trying to be strong," said mom Heather Bruton."
"I did not think anyone saw me," said Dylan Bruton.
The teen was seated in the back bleachers of the gym at the time.
He said he was partly inspired by the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick. The quarterback has taken a knee during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice.
Additionally, Bruton said he was overcome with emotion. Just days before, he had suddenly lost his grandfather, a veteran.
'I prayed to God," he said, "...we need you as much as possible right now."
The private Catholic school said it came down to respect.
"I have the utmost respect for veterans," said Bruton, "..they're making a huge, huge sacrifice."
In fact, after the assembly, the teen said he personally shook the hands of the veterans.
According to the family, school officials said Bruton displayed unbecoming behavior and had to fulfill the following criteria to continue his enrollment at the prestigious private school:
· Remain on Disciplinary Contract for the remainder of the school year.
· Attend five sessions of counseling with student services.
· Submit an essay on a topic to be determined by the administration.
· Banned from the football team.
· Banned from participating in the school's TV broadcasts.
· Submit a letter of apology to the Veterans in attendance at the assembly.
School officials declined to go on camera but sent the following statement:
"As a matter of policy, we cannot comment on any individual student’s record out of respect for the privacy of our students and their families.
Bishop Gorman takes pride in the character development of its students. Specifically, the virtues of leadership, excellence, and accountability are emphasized. As a result, students are expected to demonstrate respect at all times, including to those who have served their country on the very day that honors their sacrifice."
Most troubling to this bi-racial devout Catholic family, they said there were political signs on school property during this divisive election season.
"They were saying things like, we got our country back," said Bruton.
The teen said comments like that made many of his minority friends feel not welcomed. He said he's sharing his story to make the school a better place.
"I wish they would be willing to listen, and have some compassion," he said.
The teen has since enrolled in a different school.