For most of her life, Stephanie Krueger says its been her goal to make the elite team of cheerleaders at Hanover Park High School.
The New Jersey high school sophomore told CBS New York that she has trained four days a week for the last 10 years in hopes of becoming a member of the prestigious "Black Squad."
But now Krueger is worried that all that work was for nothing. That's because her school, in order to be "inclusive," announced a new rule that says anyone who tries out for the cheer team has to be accepted.
Freshmen and sophomores who try out will make the "White Squad," the school wrote in a letter, while upperclassmen will automatically make the "Black Squad," which was originally intended for the best of the best.
The rule goes into effect for the 2018-19 school year.
Krueger said that the policy has left her feeling deflated.
“All the time I’ve spent in my cheer gym practicing, constantly flipping, practicing my jumps, all was just like gone,” she told CBS New York. “I can’t believe, like, my hard work just dropped.
"It’s like telling a football player — your star varsity football player — they can’t play anymore because we want to make it all inclusive.”
The change was made when one child didn't make the team — and their parent complained, according to The Associated Press.
Current members of the 10-person squad went to a board of education meeting last Wednesday to air their concerns.
Jada Alcontara, a sophomore, argued that the new policy doesn't encourage students to better themselves, News12 reported.
“I came up here to state that I did not put in 18 months of work to lead up to this moment, just to be told it didn’t matter anymore,” she said.
Parents were upset by the decision, too. Sharon Iossa said the policy sets a "bad precedent."
“Everybody doesn’t get a trophy," she told CBS. "You can’t be a Giants player just because you play football.”
But the school board said in a statement to News12 Jersey that it just wanted "to be as inclusive as possible."
Sandy Prociello, a resident of nearby Whippany, wondered what effect this policy could have on the children later in life.
“What about life? What about getting a job? You know?" she told CBS New York. "You’re going to have your mom come with you, too, to hold your hand?”
It's not the first time a school has waded into controversy while striving for inclusion. A school in New York City angered parents when it postponed a father-daughter dance because of concerns that it would violate the state’s new gender guidelines that aim to create a more inclusive space for transgender people.
“Gender-based policies, rules, and practices can have the effect of marginalizing, stigmatizing, stereotyping and excluding students, whether or not they are transgender or gender nonconforming,” read the guidelines from the New York City Department of Education. “For these reasons, schools should review such policies, rules and practices, and should eliminate any that do not serve a clear pedagogical purpose.
Instead, the dance had been postponed until March, when people of all gender identities were be able to attend, according to CBS New York.
That didn't go over well with some people with children at the school, PS 65. That includes Akaia Cameron, a mom of a third-grader at the school.
“All this gender crap needs to just stop,” she told The New York Post.