Last Wednesday, Camarillo High School administrators ordered students Austin Medeiros, Stefan Valenzuela, and their two friends to remove their American flag bandanas and suspended them after they led fellow students at a basketball game in “USA, USA” chants. Camarillo school officials felt those actions had “racial overtones.”
In a high school basketball game in California between Camarillo and Rio Mesa High School, the four friends wore patriotic American flag bandanas like they have always done.
A Camarillo school official ordered them to either remove their bandanas or leave the game as a “precaution” since both schools have a significant number of Hispanic students. The students removed the bandanas and then led the diverse Camarillo high school students who were at the game in a “USA, USA” chant. For that, they were suspended. School officials later lifted the suspension.
Medeiros, one of the students who wore the American flag bandana, told the Ventura County Star that he and his friends are “very patriotic” and they have “always” worn the American flag bandanas.
“I will always be proud of where I come from and what my flag represents,” he tweeted. “No matter what anyone tells me! I stand up for what I believe in!”
Gabe Soumakian, the superintendent of the Oxnard Union School District, told Fox News’ Todd Starnes that the USA chants had “racial overtones” and this could be a “teachable moment” for the school. He also said the “USA” chant did not comply with California state athletic guidelines and noted, “it has to do with the fact that they are making a chant regarding that we are from the USA and you’re not. Whether that’s the implied intent, that’s the way it comes across.”
“We have a very diverse student body in the district,” Soumakian said. “As a superintendent I think we need to pursue this further. We need to work with teachers and students and the community about the concept of cultural proficiency.”
After the video of the diverse Camarillo student body chanting, “USA, USA,” was posted on YouTube, commenters expressed their support for the four patriotic students.
One commenter wrote, “I am absolutely dumbfounded that these proud American kids were singled out and punished for being patriotic … If you don’t love this country … get out.”
As Starnes notes, in 2010, after a California high school banned a group of students from wearing American flag t-shirts on Cinco de May, a federal court ruled in favor of the school district, saying “concerns over possible violence justified censoring the pro-American message.”
Starnes opined that he was proud to see young people display patriotism, writing that it made him “so proud to see young people, especially in California where anti-Americanism is rampant, take pride in their country and show it!”
Photo credit: Austin Medeiros Instagram account