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A Black football player told another teen not to call him the n-word. He was ejected

Dec 6, 2021, 5:02 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2021, 10:45 am
layton football player suspended over n word...
Elias West, a senior at Layton, faced a two-game suspension over the use of a racial slur, but his mom says another play called him the n-word first and he merely told him not to use that word. Photo: Craig Hammond

SYRACUSE, Utah — The mom of a Black student at Layton High School says her son was punished for using the n-word during a football game, but that it only came after someone on the other team called him the slur first.

This reportedly happened when the Layton football team met the Titans on their field in Syracuse back on Oct. 7.

“He got tackled by a group of boys,” Lissa West said of her son, Elias. “One of them — to this day we don’t know which one — said to him ‘stay down n-word’.”

She says neither officials nor parents heard the initial slur in the pile, adding that “wasn’t surprising,” because whoever said it “didn’t say it loud.”

“As the pile cleared, and my son began to stand up… he was rightfully upset,” West said. “In response, he [my son] said ‘don’t f-ing call me an n—–.” 

“The ref heard what my son said, and stopped the game, ejected him, and suspended him,” said West. “Now, the ref is saying he heard him say it differently than what I am saying.”

layton football player suspended and accused of using n word

Elias West in his Layton High School football uniform. Photo: Craig Hammond.

West says the ref heard Elias say “shut the f— up you n—–.”

“All I can say is it’s his word against my son’s,” West said. “My son is a 3.8 student, he does not get into trouble. This is not language he normally uses. He was upset.” 

Davis district investigates slur against Layton player

West says she called the superintendent the next morning and met with multiple people from the Davis School District. 

The school district confirmed it had done an investigation of its own into what happened at the Layton-Syracuse game. 

A spokesman from the district sent KSL NewsRadio this statement: “The district takes the allegations very seriously and conducted its own investigation. It cannot share details of that investigation.”

“They have said over and over they believe my son,” West said. “But there has been no punishment for the Syracuse team whatsoever. They can’t figure out who said it.” 

A zero-tolerance policy

The Utah High School Activities Association, the agency behind the suspension, supports a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to using a racial slur or any hate speech. 

It’s a rule that has been on the books for three years.

The rule says “taunting, defined as including racial slurs, discriminatory acts, and divisive comments on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or national origin” should result in a suspension from two games for a first offense. It doubles for a second one, and a third knocks a player out for the remainder of their season and any other sports for the school year.

The rule only applies to sports, not to any school suspension. Since implementation, the UHSAA invoked that rule on a few other occasions. 

Earlier this year, the agency investigated allegations of racism at a lacrosse game between Wasatch and Highland high schools. And a few years ago, two high schools were fined for racist comments and bad behavior.

Layton’s varsity team ultimately lost that game on Oct. 7 — by a slim 19-14. The Lancers went on to win their first playoff game on Oct. 22, but their season ended the following week when they lost at Weber High.

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A Black football player told another teen not to call him the n-word. He was ejected