The Greenville County School District in South Carolina is joining the principals of Travelers Rest and Berea high school in their defense of a decision not to allow students to carry American flags into a football game that had been held between the two schools last week.
A number of people have called local news stations and taken to social media, complaining that the principal refused to allow American flags into the football game held on Friday night, claiming that doing so may offend Berea high school, which has a large Hispanic community.
"The flag has been used in the past to taunt Berea students and community that has led to confrontation. Student safety (and in the case of a football game, safety of all attending) is our primary concern. It is the responsibility of the school to provide the safest environment possible and no object, sign, chants by students, etc. would be permitted if they compromise safety," said Principal Lou Lavely.
Lavely added that the use of the flag as a method of taunting or degrading a school community is disrespectful to the flag itself. He said that he has continuously encouraged the student body to show respect to the flag, which he said is on display at sports stadiums in the school. He added that fans are asked to stand and help sing the national anthem before sporting events, including the football game in question. In addition, the school shows its patriotism in a number of ways, including thanking faculty members who are veterans for their service with large banners and choosing the Honor Flights, an organization that provides free flights for veterans to visit the war memorials in Washington DC, as Spirit Week charity for the last two years.
He added that he does support patriotism at the school, so long as it is done so appropriately.
Berea High School Principal Mike Noel also issued a statement on the incident, offering his full support to Lavely and his decision not to allow the flag at the game. He added that the correct decision had been made, as it was based on the idea that it should not be used in a disrespectful manner.
A response was also made by the Greenville County School District, stating that while the use of the American flag at games is supported by the district, it must be done so appropriately. The statement adds that the district does not condone the use of the flag in an unsportsmanlike manner.
"There is no ban at the school or district level on the appropriate display of the United States Flag but using it in a manner that is disrespectful to it or the principles it represents will be addressed if it occurs."
Meanwhile, not everyone agrees with the decision. FitsNews called the decision a "repression of free speech" that is "Anti-American," adding that the district could face a First Amendment lawsuit as a result.