Texas Football Allergy Incident: Targeted Player Feels Backlash

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News
Published: December 5, 2023
Texas Football Allergy Incident: Targeted Player Feels Backlash
Carter, 15, plays offensive tackle.

When he was on the field, Carter Mannon zoned in on playing football during his team’s Texas playoff run. But off the field, the stress of being targeted by teammates in a peanut allergy incident lingered. 

“It has taken a huge toll on him,” says his mom Shawna Mannon. “It was really hard for him to relax and enjoy the playoffs.” 

Carter, who’s 15, was targeted by two teammates for his severe peanut allergy in October 2023. But it’s the backlash he’s faced since the incident that has been mentally draining for her son, Mannon tells Allergic Living.

The teen, who plays offensive tackle for the Lake Travis High School varsity football team in suburban Austin, was shocked to discover peanuts in his football locker on Oct. 6. Two players had put peanuts in his cleats and onto his jersey before a road game. Teammates were also seen laughing while sharing a video of the main perpetrator placing the peanuts, Carter’s mom told Allergic Living in November.

Carter broke out in hives, which resolved, from skin exposure to the peanuts. But he and his family remain disturbed by both the seriousness of the incident – and the fallout that continues.

“What’s most disappointing is that this happened on a team – from teammates,” Carter’s mom says.

Mannon thinks the incident could have served as a lesson about rallying around a teammate who had something bad done to them. Instead her son has not only been targeted for his food allergy, but he is dealing with backlash. Both to his face and behind his back, he hears others at school questioning “why won’t you let it go?” 

Seeking Justice for Football Player 

As for punishment for the two perpetrators, Mannon understands that it’s been a slap on the wrist. She says they sat out for two games and were removed from the varsity locker room for the remainder of the season. 

Mannon says an investigation was launched into the retaliation that occurred right after the initial incident. Carter was interviewed for this investigation, and his mom says he gave a list of several incidents. 

In one case, a peanut butter granola bar was put in his backpack. Another time, the teen said the main perpetrator boasted that he was “untouchable”. Shawna Mannon says that perpetrator, who plays defense, also tried to get other players to let him practice head-to-head against Carter. He said he wanted to “kick his butt” for speaking out.  

The Mannon family has not heard anything further about the investigation’s results. Allergic Living reached out to the Lake Travis Independent School District (LTISD) and the LTISD Police Department for comment on the investigations into the locker incident and the retaliation that followed. They said they have no comment at this time. 

The Mannons say they are waiting to hear if there will be justice for their son. They believe it should include harsher punishment for the peanut incident perpetrators. 

The family is considering legal steps if there is no action from the district this week, Carter’s mom says. The family’s next step would be to file a grievance against the school district about the situation.

“I’m still holding on to hope that now that football is over that they will have proper discipline,” she says. (Lake Travis High’s season ended December 2 with a 21-14 loss to Westlake High in the state quarterfinals.) 

The Players and Discipline

In a November 9 letter to parents and staff, school district superintendent Paul Norton confirmed the locker contamination incident. He said the school administrators reviewed evidence and “applied consequences.” But the specifics of the discipline could not be made public because of federal privacy laws for minor students, the letter states.

At a November 15 school board meeting, Carter’s mom and several other parents spoke out about the incident. Many parents contended more disciplinary action is needed, such as a 30-day suspension or even expulsion.

It has been a tough couple of months for the Mannons, says his mom. There has been worry about Carter’s safety, plus the comments serving as a constant reminder about how the teen’s teammates treated him. Carter felt some isolation, especially during times when he was excluded from text threads and team dinners, Mannon says. 

She notes that Carter does have friends who are supporting him. But most of those friends are on the junior varsity team, so they were not with him in the locker room or at practice.

Critical Need for Food Allergy Education 

The peanut harassment almost spread to another school. At the Mannons’ request, Carter’s coach alerted all teams they played after the incident that their team has a player with a severe peanut allergy. The letters noted that they expect a clean game with no issues based on the allergy.

But Carter’s mom learned of an anonymous student-run Instagram “slam” account from rival Westlake High. It declared the theme for the playoff game against Lake Travis would be “USA” and “peanut butter”. 

She reported it to the Lake Travis leadership and they got the other school to promptly remove the post. The fans abided by a directive to appear at the game only in USA-themed attire. And Mannon says there was no peanut taunting at the game.

The social media post was another example of the need to educate others about the severity of food allergies, Mannon says. 

“It would make a difference if people just had a conversation with their kids about food allergies, and also about how to treat teammates,” she says. 

Letter-writing campaign: No Nut Traveler’s Lianne Mandelbaum has started a write-in campaign in this bullying incident. See her post on Facebook here.

Related Reading:
Texas Football Peanut Allergy Incident: What Happened
Facing Down the Food Allergy Bully
Enough is Enough with the Food Allergy ‘Jokes’