“Kierstien Hening Refused To Kneel”: Virginia Tech Sued By Student Who Alleges Abuse Over Her Refusal To Support BLM and Diversity Displays

The lawsuit of Virginia Tech student Kierstien Hening begins with a simple statement: “Kierstien Hening refused to kneel.”  The lawsuit filed this week against Virginia Tech soccer coach Charles “Chugger” Adair (in his official capacity) alleges that when Hening refused to kneel and support Black Lives Matter, she was benched, harassed and ultimately forced off the team. If the allegations are true, she could have not only a winning case but a case that could set important precedent for the freedom of speech.

Adair implemented changes after a mandated diversity training order from the Atlantic Coast Conference. We have seen such mandated training programs in colleges and corporations — programs that can raise concerns over compelled speech and viewpoint discrimination. As a state school, Virginia Tech is subject to the limitations imposed on the government under the First Amendment.

Hening alleges that Adair wanted the student to emulate former NFL Colin Kaepernick  in kneeling before games and wanted to replace the name “Hokies” on the back of their jerseys with the names of people killed by police.

During meetings, Hening objected to the changes as compelled speech and said that she disagreed with aspects of the BLM movement. She was then allegedly labeled a “racist” by some on the team.

The complaint states that only two students objected to kneeling but their other student was on a scholarship and her parents called Adair to warn him not to harass their daughter for her political views. Instead, Hening alleges, Adair singled her out as well as speaking negatively about some people who believe “all lives matter.” She says that her refusal to kneel led to her benching and eventual removal from the team. It also allegedly resulted in a torrent of abuse verbally and on social media.

The complaint alleges that, during the halftime in a game with Virginia, Adair singled out Hening and ridiculed and denounced her in front of the team as being selfish and “bitching and moaning” rather than being a team player in supporting the diversity displays. She was pulled as a starters in the next game against Clemson and again Adair allegedly berated her publicly. She was also left off the starters in the next game against North Carolina.  She claims that the abuse and shunning became so great that she was forced to resign.

One issue may be that she elected to resign. The school can argue that she was allowed to refuse to participate in the displays and that the decision to use players is based on a coach’s discretion.  She did in fact play, though not as a starter or not for very long in these games. Moreover, she resigned only after a few games rather than raise the issue with the university and allow time for resolution.

Nevertheless, the complaint alleges clear forms of retaliation and harassment against a student for her political and social views. If true, Adair was using his position to pressure and abuse a student for not adhering to the preferred view of BLM and diversity displays.

We have been discussing students and teachers who disagree with aspects of BLM while supporting the movement for racial equally. There has been a growing intolerance for such dissenting views. At Berkeley, even an anonymous letter from a faculty member (who feared retaliation) was condemned by colleagues. At UChicago, a respected academic was the subject of a campaign to his termination simply because he criticized BLM and questioned claims about police abuse.  A University of Pennsylvania professor faced calls for his termination when he questioned an anti-racism statement. A Harvard professor was the subject of such a campaign for questioning the support for some claims of police abuse. A UCF professor was put under police protection after challenging certain claims as akin to “black privilege.” A Cornell professor was attacked by his own colleagues for voicing dissenting views about BLM and its underlying claims. A Virginia professor had to take a leave of absence after criticizing BLM. Even students have been subject to formal condemnations for criticizing the BLM movement or questioning its claims like a recent controversy at Georgetown. Students in New York colleges have faced such retaliation for their views, including again Cornell. A Wisconsin student columnist was fired for voicing opposing views of defunding the police.

Few faculty or students want to face such campaigns or labelling For its part, BLM has denounced even criticism of the real estate purchases of one of its founders as “terror by White Supremacists.

The targeting of students is particularly concerning. Rather than use his position to reaffirm that there can be divergent views on a team, Adair is accused of using his position to isolate and abuse this student.

This controversy shows why students feel increasingly uncomfortable in speaking freely on our campuses.  We previously discussed a Gallup poll showing ninety percent of Pomona students said that they did not feel free to speak openly or freely. It is an indictment of not just Pomona but many of our colleges. This is not a problem for many students but an increasingly small percentage of self-identified conservatives. One recent poll shows the already small population of conservative and Republican students has been cut by roughly half. The Crimson survey covered over 76 percent of the Harvard College Class of 2024 and found that the class contained 72.4 percent who self-identify as either “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal.” Only 7.4 percent self-identify as “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative.”  Another Harvard study showed that 35 percent of conservatives felt that they could share their views on campus.

Again, Adair and Virginia Tech have yet to respond to this lawsuit. However, the allegations are extremely serious in my view from a free speech perspective. There is a crushing irony to the allegations. Kaepernick was allowed to kneel in protest in the NFL. However, now students are complaining that they are not being allowed to stand for the anthem without retaliation and harassment.

The complaint should be enough to get through a motion to dismiss unless the court deems the resignation to be determinative. I do not see why it should be since Hening is still alleging a pattern of abuse from a state actor. If that were a determinative factor, most of the employment discrimination cases that resulted in a person quitting would not be actionable because they did not wait to be fired. If Hening makes it through the motion to dismiss, she would be allowed discovery of emails and other possible evidence on the response of Adair and his staff to this dissenting student.


44 thoughts on ““Kierstien Hening Refused To Kneel”: Virginia Tech Sued By Student Who Alleges Abuse Over Her Refusal To Support BLM and Diversity Displays”

  1. Harassments for political views is bad. Question: is the harassments that this young lady received analogous to the harassments that Kapernick received? I felt sympathy with the NFL for criticizing Kapernick, now on reading this piece, I’m not so sure any more. Presumably the objection to harassments should be “content neutral”?

  2. ” wanted the student to emulate former NFL Colin Kaepernick in kneeling before games”
    Colin Rand Kaepernick Has raised so much bushwah over knees that nobody understood the reason.
    I’ve been watching football since

    Two “heroes” of mine introduced professional football to my Motorola 10″ television.
    My heroes were Bobby Layne and Bubba Smith. Smith who was 6′ 7″ defined the tight-ends of the time,with this
    wonderful description of what a linesman should be. I heard him, but I cant verify the statements. “I open my arms and
    I gathered them in. I tossed them away one at a time until I find the man with ball.” Simple Gifts.

    Back to Kaepernick — he had a great first year but like most athletes the second year must be better. Kaepenick had a so-so
    season but no where near his rookie output. Of course the third year defines the player. Many 3rd year players don’t fulfill the 2+ years and off to Canada they trot. Lots of third year players just can’t turn the corner and .,

    Kaepernick knew he couldn’t make the grade but did find his niche.

    Yes, he took the knee — his simple gift to himself.

      1. Wondering if he was thinking of John Mackey. Same Colts era as Bubba Smith. A little different era than Bobby Layne.


      2. Back my in my days Ends were on the Ends, Tackles were inside the Ends.
        Line designations stayed with Van Patrick and the play-by-play.

  3. Kierstien Hening should be awarded damages of $28 million from Virginia Tech; $27 million in honor of St. Floyd and another $1 million for pain and suffering.

  4. This lawsuit is frivolous and insolent.

    The “dictatorship of the proletariat” of the Communist Manifesto is unconstitutional, treasonous and actionable.

    This lawsuit is an act to incrementally seize and establish dominion.

    This lawsuit is an act of war.

    Americans must become “woke” to the distinct possibility, nay, probability of their own, imminent demise.

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

  5. From https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/content/pdfs/38-4_Letters_from_Prison/38-4_Brocker.pdf

    On June 17, 1940, in the early stages of World War II, France surrendered to Germany. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his closest friend and colleague, Eberhard Bethge, were having a leisurely lunch in a café in the Baltic village of Memel. They were in East Prussia doing three visitations on behalf of the Confessing Church, which had issued the Barmen Declaration in 1934 and struggled against the inroads of the Nazis into the life of the church.

    They had met with a group of pastors in the morning, and Bonhoeffer was scheduled to preach in a Confessing Church congregation that evening.
    According to Bethge, when the announcement of France’s surrender came over the café loudspeaker, “the people around the tables could hardly contain themselves; they jumped up, and some even climbed on the chairs. With outstretched arms they sang ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles’ and the Horst Wessel song. We had stood up, too.”

    Bethge was shocked, however, when “Bonhoeffer raised his arm in the regulation Hitler salute.” Recognizing his friend’s shock, Bonhoeffer whispered to him, “Raise your arm! Are you crazy?” Shortly thereafter Bonhoeffer added: “We shall have to run risks for very different things now, but not for that salute.”

  6. You MUST comply…and Think JUST LIKE everyone else, or you get cancelled. This is the left’s utopia. They ARE CUBA and CHINA wrapped up in one. They are the bullies they keep telling us about.

  7. This is a very serious matter, perhaps the most serious this nation faces. Academics and students are being forced to support a Marxist organization founded on false pretenses by people whose goal is the overthrow of the United States and replace it with a Marxist government. These hoods are forcing people to bow down to them. I hope this young woman wins her case.

  8. This one has all the markings of a team chemistry problem that rises far beyond whether someone wants to kneel or not. Players routinely kneel in soccer when a player is injured during play. It’s a sign of respect widely accepted as being non threatening within the sport. Not to say that personal politics don’t come into coach/team/player dynamics, but they’d more likely manifest around the same common inability to communicate exhibited so often in society around the dynamic of those unable to steer clear of public good/private rights conflicts and disagreements.


    1. And hey, winning is the thing in competitive athletics. There isn’t really the luxury of benching someone over disagreements of personal politics. You put the players on the field/pitch/court who give you the best chance of winning because as a coach your job depends on it.


    2. Players routinely kneel in soccer when a player is injured during play. It’s a sign of respect widely accepted as being non threatening within the sport

      That is so much hogwash.
      “take a knee” must likely has military roots. It was a way to let the group know they could be at rest for a short respite from the mission. A break for themselves to regroup physically and mentally. It was a way to say Relax, but alert for commands in a few minutes.

      As usual, the left has hijacked something simple and desecrated it, wildly inappropriate, in time and place as a protest.

  9. As much as I want Henning to win this thing if true, there is another side. A fellow teammate has come forward to dispute the allegations against the woke coach — he is by the way — and say she was benched for poor play. The teammate also said the coach didn’t impose his views on the players. Let the facts come out and the guilty pay. But let’s not make them guilty until they are proven guilty

    We don’t have to be like them to beat them.


    1. Well, maybe. The thing is, if it was all about “poor play” there was no reason for the verbal haranguing, which took place before hundreds of spectators. That’s the issue here.

  10. Courageous lady. To not take a knee, to not beg, to stand against Some, Select [Black] Lives Matter, and diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment), inequity, and exclusion, not limited to racism, is an extraordinary act in modern life.

    Baby Lives Matter (BLM).

    Diversity of individuals, minority of one.

    Pro-Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

  11. I have been both a victim of and formally studied the dynamics of group think and appreciate Ms. Hening’s courage to stand against the tide. Unchallenged thinking is unacceptable. This not a left or a right issue. This is infringement on a civil liberty and at its core is chilling.

    If one really thinks about the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” they will better understand the consequences of not voicing their deserting view, even when it is unpopular.

    I applaud her courage and wish her well in bringing this to light. Hopefully, her example will inspire others to likewise withstand the pressure to remain silent and submit to group think.

  12. Appears that free speech on college campuses is now on life support. Hope she wins and wins big

  13. Good for her!! And my wife and I will donate a $1000 dollars to her legal defense fund. We have already donated money to 5 other folks who are suing various institutions.

  14. Good Lord, it is not a right-left issue, it is an issue of free speech versus compelled speech. To take a knee is to endorse BLM and the whole spectrum of silliness that goes under the names of identity politics and social justice and political correctness.
    It is not just left-wing petty tyrants who are the problem, it is petty tyrants, period. They are now, and always have been, a plague, and they come in as many varieties as there are opinions. Not bending a knee to BLM is the same as not bending a knee to ISIS or any other organization that demands abject obedience on pain of cancellation or worse if you do not comply.
    Free speech is a value, not a legal fiction or a narrowly defined right that the petty tyrants running social media or working at major corporations do not need to follow because they are private enterprises rather than governmental bodies; it is a cultural value that encourages people to live freely because it is bound up with all the other freedoms we once enjoyed in the West, from choosing and practicing a religion to campaigning and voting for a political candidate. It is basic, which is why the ’60s began with the Free Speech Movement and the demise of HUAC.
    Alas, those who do not know history and are too young to remember any events further in the past than the election of Barrack Obama or Bill Clinton cannot appreciate the dangers of enforced conformities and the necessity of individual idiosyncracies, and I doubt that even if they read On Liberty or On Toleration, they would be able to grasp the values which informed the works of Mill and Voltaire, but they might do well with Mein Kampf or a fundamentalist text.
    Petty tyrants and ignorant conformists abound; they always have, and until you have been shamed, shunned, or harassed, it is impossible to understand how damaging these sorts of actions are to the individual targeted. I can understand why Ms. Hening resigned, it is no fun to be subjected to psychological attacks on a daily basis. But I suspect that many of our august judges will not be able to do so, simply because they rose to their current positions by taking a knee when it furthered their carrer.
    So I wish Ms. Hening the best of luck with her lawsuit, but I do not expect her to succeed in an age in which ignorance and conformity have become the dominant social norms, and those who are never able to find a hill to die on end up as king of the hill.

    1. “Good Lord, it is not a right-left issue, it is an issue of free speech versus compelled speech. ”

      An Old Guy, it is a left right issue today. The left has made it that way and almost the entire left is in lock-step. The actions we are seeing from the left are totalitarian and totally against free-speech.

      1. I appreciate the efforts of the left to try and kill of free speech. That is welcome. Many tire of the excesses of free speech. And when we finally win, trust me. tolerance for vocal minorities and perpetual dissidents will be OVER.

        See, this was all a matter of dishonesty. The left such like as the ACLU were all in favor of free speech, when they had no power to censor.

        Now that they DO have the power to censor, they drop the mask and eagerly embrace it.

        OK! Lets ditch the worrying about this empty bromide free speech and just get on with the fight! it is NOT a fight of ideas, it is a fight of PEOPLE!

      2. Thank you.
        Of course, you are correct. There once were mavericks in both parties, so the votes in Congress were less predictable. But today the Democrats are a monolithic bloc and the Republicans would like to shed their dissidents so they could be as well.
        Democrats now cater to corporate elites, hang out with wealthy celebrities, and depend on well-to-do professionals, while Republicans are increasingly “populist” (a term of derision coined by the right-thinking) and draw their support from the less advantaged (or “deplorable”) members of our society and the unwoke members of their traditional constituencies. A similar transformation is also underway in the UK, where the Labour Party is now largely confined to London, the Tories have taken over much of the Red Wall, and neither party does well in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
        Similar shifts appear to be occurring elsewhere in Europe, and if it is not clear whether they will be permanent, it is clear that the Guardian and the New York Times, once champions of free speech, are now proponents of woke censorship who would not print “Condor’s” expose, while Tucker Carlson welcomes Glenn Greenwald to speak freely as his old comrades at the Intercept shun him.
        Who would have thought that freedom of speech would be confined to Substack, Spiked!, and the comments on this blog?
        But if the Left no longer believes in free speech, I am not sure that the Right does either, so if we frame the issue as Left versus Right, we cannot win over those on either side who believe that suppressing speech is a virtuous activity.
        However, if we set free speech against compelled speech, there is a slight possibility that we might persuade the odd individual to support it, even if Jordan Petersen has not had much success with Justin Trudeau and the peoplekind who voted for him.
        I view free speech as a fundamental cultural and societal norm on which all of us should be able to agree because the value of free speech in an open society is obvious to me, as it was to Bergson and Popper. But Erich Fromm argued that some of us prefer to escape the shackles of freedom and live in a closed society where our betters can do our thinking for us.
        Whatever our preference, freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly are not merely legal constructs, but basic values which inform our laws. Whether our current society will agai embrace free speech as a norm or cast it aside as no longer relevant in an age of social media is uncertain; the right side of history is just hard to identify, human nature being what it is.

      3. What’s left of the (classical?) liberal left supports free speech–Joe Rogan, Tulsi Gabbard, Bret and Eric Weinstein, Heather Heying, and a few others.

        1. Prairie, I am not sure of what you are trying to say. The classical liberal was more than just free speech. The meanings behind the names have been destroyed by the left. They constantly destroy their own reputation and then have to change their name often adopting something that existed previously.

  15. Never kneel and never pray. Cut an artFay and make those religious Dorks go away.

  16. Lefty petty tyrants coming for all of us if we don’t (successfully) push back.

    Anonymous is back up to full pace, obsessively hitting the refresh button for hours yesterday.

    He is like the fat kid in school asking: “Why don’t you like me?”.

    If you have to ask…

    1. Except fat kids aren’t obnoxious jerks that try to dominate a forum…as Anonymous does.

      Anyone that doesn’t support this young woman is an enemy of freedom. The country has gone from the acceptance of a fool like Kapernick (SP, I know) kneeling to people not being allowed to stand for our national anthem. This is what the left has done to the nation. This is what the Democrats will allow in order to garner power. It is truly sickening and sad for an older person such as myself.

      1. “This is what the Democrats will allow in order to garner power. It is truly sickening and sad for an older person such as myself.”

        every sucessful group which gained power, did not do so by accident. it sought power as a goal

        if “Republicans” do not esteem power then they are not worthy of a single vote. We want leadership who is going to fight the enemy and crush them- not tolerate them.

        THAT is why the LEFT succeeds.

        The “Right” or “patriots” or “us” whomever we may be, had better WTFU and get this through our dull heads!

        1. Donald J Trump’s worst fault?


          Answer: he was not half the autocrat that they Democrats pretended him to be!

          Next time no more Mister Nice Guy!

    2. ” Lefty petty tyrants coming for all of us if we don’t (successfully) push back.”

      “free speech” is not the goal. POWER is the goal and subduing our enemies decisively is the goal.

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