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Washington high school referees sue to use charity pink whistles

A high school football referee association is suing Washington state youth athletic governing bodies over the use of pink whistles for a cancer charity.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in King County Superior Court alleges that the Washington Officials Association and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association infringed on the First Amendment rights of the referees after they were barred from using pink whistles during a breast cancer awareness campaign in 2010.

Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association president Jeff Matson says that the WOA changed its bylaws three weeks after the referees started donning the whistles. Matson also says the WOA disciplined the referees in May by removing them from upcoming playoff games because they violated the newly created rules.

Calls to the WOA and WIAA were not immediately returned.

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