A number of students and parents marched across York, South Carolina last week waving American flags in protest of the York Comprehensive High School's decision to require one of its students to remove a flag from the back of his pickup truck.
While school officials had originally noted the flag was a safety concern because it could block the view of other drivers, they later announced an exception on the school district's website "for the American flag, as long as the size of the flag does not create a driving hazard."
"We appreciate the passion and pride of all who have called or come by YCHS over the past 24 hours," the statement read. "America was founded by patriots who led positive change in a myriad of ways. We believe today is a great example of peaceful demonstration leading to positive change. This is the very process we advocate in our Social Studies classrooms and the fabric of American citizenship. Thank you for helping us as we educate the students of our community."
Over 70 vehicles joined in the protest, which made their way through the town of York before parking in front of the high school after school officials told senior Peyton Robinson he needed to remove the American flag from the bed of his pickup truck.
According to Robinson, the two flags that had been posted on either side of the bed of his truck were merely meant to display his patriotism, and he did not think anyone would have had a problem with them. He had them displayed for a month with no word, until one day last week a school administrator pulled him out of class and asked him to take them down because someone had complained about them. He said he was asked to meet an administrator in the parking lot to take them off, but upon arrival, he found school officials had already removed the flags.
"They took them down and laid them in the bed of the truck," Robinson said. "I don't think they should have touched my truck without my permission."
When Robinson returned home after school that day, he replaced the flags on his truck and began to complain to his friends about the incident on social media. By the next morning he had a large number of supporters across the town.
Throughout the incident, York schools spokeswoman Maria Duncan maintained that flying the flag was not what was at issue, but insteaad it was a concern for the safety of others, reports Rachel Rollar for WCNC.
"For safety reasons, it is a violation for vehicles to have flags mounted on them," Duncan said. "It has nothing to do with being an offensive act. Students were told that their patriotism was appreciated, but having a flag flying on the back of the vehicle in the parking lot at YCHS is a violation of school rules related to safety."
While Robinson was told it was a violation of the school's student driver and parking policy, he was unable to find any such rule in the student handbook or on the school's website.
A similar situation occurred at another high school in South Carolina last year when students were asked to remove flags in compliance with a school policy that did not allow students to "draw attention" to their vehicles.