By CBSLA Staff

RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — State public health officials have reversed their policy on keeping cheerleaders from taking part in high school football games, and will now allow them to cheer from the sidelines.

Officials now say sideline cheerleading is comparable to competitive cheer, and should follow all the requirements of other outdoor moderate-contact sports.

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High school cheerleaders had rallied Thursday night at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside against what they said was a sexist policy that considered cheerleading a support, rather than a sport.

“We all know that it’s a sport people often look down on,” cheerleader Jaiden Pekar said.

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Most high school sports have been allowed to resume in Riverside County, which has improved into the red tier due to improving coronavirus case rates and allowed the county to resume indoor dining and most high school sports. Cheerleading, however, had been banned, with the California Department of Public Health guidance declaring “sideline cheer, band, drumline or other supporting groups are not allowed to attending sporting events at this time.”

Competitive cheer — where cheerleading is the main focus of the event – was already permitted in the red tier.

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“If football [players] can touch each other and sweat on each other during a COVID pandemic, these girls can,” mother Leanne Cuenka said.