More than 20 western Virginia high school students were suspended Thursday after holding a rally to protest a new policy banning vehicles with Confederate flag symbols from the school parking lot and refusing to take off clothing displaying the symbol.

Christiansburg High School Senior Houston Miller, who organized the rally, said he doesn’t believe the administration should be able to tell students what they can wear or put on their vehicle. He said he doesn’t intend to back down and is encouraging more students to show their support for the flag Friday.

{snip}

The dress code at the school in Christiansburg–south of Blacksburg along Interstate 81–prohibits students from wearing articles that reflect adversely on people because of race, gender, or other factors. A new policy this fall bans students from having Confederate symbols on their vehicles in the parking lot.

{snip}

The 21 students who refused to remove their Confederate flag clothing were initially given in-school suspensions, said Brenda Drake, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County Public Schools. But 15 of them were sent home for the day after being loud and disruptive. Another two students were suspended for additional days.

Drake said the school values the students’ First Amendment rights but has to maintain a safe and orderly environment. She said “incidents of racial tension” at the school have made the ban necessary but did not specify what the incidents were and didn’t immediately respond to further requests for comment.

Of the school’s 1,100 students, 83 percent are white and 8 percent are black, state data show.

{snip}

Senior Morgan Willis attended the rally but decided to comply with the rules because she feared a suspension would prevent her from representing the school at an event this weekend. She had a Confederate flag draped across the top of her car until she was told on the first day of class to remove it, she said.

Willis said that for her and for other students, the flag is central to their Southern heritage.

“I understand some people take it as hate, but none of us out there were racist or anything,” Willis said. “I don’t see it as hate. If I did, I wouldn’t own it. I see it as this is your Southern heritage, and if you can’t have that, then what can you have?”

The new policy regarding Confederate flags on cars has also angered some parents, including Josh Akers, whose child attends the grade school in the school district. He started an online petition that has more than 1,200 supporters urging the school board to reverse the policy.

{snip}

Topics: , , , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.