Principal Lou Lavely of Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina recently banned the possession of American flags at a school football game. The flag was banned due to the fact he felt it would lead to taunting and unsportsmanlike behavior by the student body.
The principal’s actions were quickly met with disagreement as many felt the act of banning the flag was not only a violation of First Amendment rights concerned with free speech, but also built off of the actions of a prior student body.
The Daily Caller reports:
“Principal Lou Lavely said his decision was to have the flag respected and ‘not allow the American Flag to be used in an impromper ‘taunting’, unsportsmanlike manner.”
The school district issued a statement in regards to the matter, claiming that they openly encourage the use of the American flag as a patriotic element, and when used for appropriate reasons in accordance with the United States Flag Code.
The ban was originally implemented as a result of previous offences where students were misusing the flag. But students argue they should not be reprimanded for the sins of prior students. The community input against the banning was received well by the principal, who agreed to lift the ban according to certain conditions.
“I fully support Mr. Lavely’s thoughtful reconsideration, and his willingness to respond to advice and input from his community.’ Said Superintended Burke Royster. ‘…I appreciate and applaud their desire to promote patriotism and service as a part of the culture of their school and am in agreement that students’ desire to carry and display the American flag should be encouraged and supported throughout the District.”
The controversy originated on the school’s social media page when the ban of the American flag was announced by Principal Lavely. Several other social media posts were made post-game by students who were denied access to the field Friday night because they had worn or had American flag related items.
In rebellion, several students drove to school on Monday with American flags displayed either on or in their vehicles. No repercussions were issued to those students by the school administration.
WBTW news reports:
“Several students drove to campus at Traverlers Rest High School Monday with American flags on their vehicles according to school principal Lou Lavely. His statement- released by the Greenville County School District- added that no students were turned away from campus Monday because of posting those flags on vehicles.
Lavely said there is not restriction on displaying the flag on automobiles or wearing Patriotic clothing at Travelers Rest High School.”
This is just one of many scenarios in which there is a fine line between administrative control in schools and the breaching of the Constitutional rights of students. Though many schools do not support First Amendment rights in the classroom, it is undeniable that there has to be some leniency when concerned with the rights of students in general.
After all, there was never a part in the Constitution which stated the public school system is spared from the Supreme Law of the Land.
There was also a mini-rally by students from another local high school in protest against the ban. Principal Mike Noel of Berea High School reported that there was an unusually large amount of students located at the flag pole Monday morning. Many of the students wore red, white, and blue, and carried American flags.
Two adults also tried to join the protest, but were turned away because it was technically a student event.
The issue at Travelers Rest High School was finally resolved as Principal Lavely agreed to allow students to bring American flags to any and all sports games in the future. The administration claimed they will look into the individual cases concerned with the misuse of the flag, and would address those matters accordingly.
What are your thoughts? Was the whole matter simply an overreaction from government-led school administrations?
Or should the flag be kept from sporting events in order to preserve the sanctity of the National symbol?
Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.