Judicial Watch • Public School Bans U.S. Flag To Avoid “Racial Tension”

Public School Bans U.S. Flag To Avoid “Racial Tension”

Public School Bans U.S. Flag To Avoid “Racial Tension”

NOVEMBER 12, 2010

 

A public middle school student in central California was forced to take an American flag off his bike because administrators feared Old Glory would ignite “racial tension”among Hispanic students.

The enraging violation of the teenager’s First Amendment right took place this week in Stanislaus County’s Denair Unified School District, where officials say Mexican flags brought in by Hispanic students created racial tension on Cinco de Mayo, the holiday that commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla.

To avoid similar problems, a boy at Denair Middle School was forced to put away an American flag displayed on his bike to support war heroes, including some in his family, on Veterans Day week. The 13-year-old was ordered to remove it after students at his U.S. taxpayer-financed school complained, according to officials quoted in a local news report. All this while an American flag flaps in the wind on campus as is the case at practically all of the nation’s public schools.

Here is the official explanation offered by the district’s superintendant, Edward Parraz: “Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they’ll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don’t really want. We want them to appreciate the cultures.”

Who would have ever imagined that the Stars and Stripes would be considered offensive on its own soil and in a government-financed institution, no less? An acclaimed educational center dedicated to studying the First Amendment (Vanderbilt University’s First Amendment Center), points out that a 1969 Supreme Court ruling allows school officials to ban student expression if they can reasonably forecast that the speech or display will cause substantial disruption.

However, addressing this incident, one of its First Amendment scholars asks: “Since when is honoring Veterans Day with the display of the American flag disruptive?” He goes on to suggest that schools facing tensions over cultural differences can teach all students that disruptions over displays such as flags on bikes or backpacks will not be tolerated rather than banning the expression.


 

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