A South Carolina high school has now banned displaying the American flag during school football games over fears that the flag could offend Hispanic students, a report says.
Travelers Rest High School Principal Lou Lavely claimed in a statement that he banned the flags because he felt some students used the flags in an “inappropriate” manner by waving them to “taunt” Hispanic members of opposing teams.
The principal said he would “not allow the American flag to be used in an improper ‘taunting,’ unsportsmanlike manner,” according to WNCN, CBS News.
The release of the statement came on the heels of a denial of entry to the school’s football field during a game over the previous weekend to a group of students with American flags. Several social media posts noted that the school had stationed local police at the entrances to the field to prevent flags from being brought into the area.
A student named Hunter Ballew took to his Facebook page to tell friends that his brother reported that fans were stopped from entering the field with the flags.
“I’m sick of this political correctness. We need to do something about it because it’s not getting any better,” the young man wrote.
Travelers Rest High was playing nearby Berea High School whose student body is largely Hispanic.
As Principal Lavely noted to WYFF News 4 that “the flag has been used in the past to taunt Berea students and community that has led to confrontation.” He added that he banned the flag for “safety reasons.”
The superintendent of the Greenville County Schools said he backed Principal Lavely 100 percent. Indeed, Mike Noel, principal of nearby Berea High School, praised Lavely for “protecting the greatest symbol of our nation, the American Flag.”
Regardless a lot of sentiment has been stirred in the small town against the school’s action as well as the involvement of the police.
As pressure mounted against the Travelers Rest Police Department for its part in the situation, Chief Lance Crowe also felt compelled to release a statement about his officers’ involvement in the incident. Crowe insisted that just because he was asked by the school district to guard the entrance of the ball field does not mean he and his officers are against Old Glory.
“Our officer’s involvement in this incident did not center on the flag, but in keeping the peace between a patron of the game and school staff,” the chief wrote.
“The school officials have the same option to trespass someone from the property under their control as any individual citizen,” the chief insisted. “The reasons for the trespass are their own business and need to be take up with the high school or the school district, not the police officers who are bound to follow the law.”
Full statement from Principal Lavely:
Many of you have inquired about posts on social media making reference to events at last night’s Travelers Rest/Berea football game. Below is the official statement from TRHS Principal Lou Lavely.
Some events at last evening’s football game have resulted in concerns being raised in our community. I am writing to assure that any decisions made regarding American flags being permitted into the game were made in the best interests of all attending the game and in the spirit of patriotism and respect for our flag.
Any decision to not allow the American flag to be used in an improper “taunting”, unsportsmanlike manner is first and foremost in the interests of promoting the safety and well-being of all in attendance at school events. This decision would be made anytime that the American flag, or any other symbol, sign, cheer, or action on the part of our fans would potentially compromise the safety of all in attendance at a school event.
Just as importantly, using the American flag to display disrespect and unsportsmanlike behavior, is in itself improper and disrespectful to our flag. Those in attendance at TRHS events from football and basketball to tennis and baseball know that I, along with our student body and community, have the utmost respect for our flag and strive to display the highest levels of patriotism. The American flag is properly displayed at our sporting stadiums and our announcers always ask the fans to stand and join in the singing of our national anthem before contests, which was most recently witnessed at last evening’s football game. Additionally, I have encouraged our student body to always show and respect our country, flag, and servicemen and women. Our student council honors the veterans on our faculty every year with large banners thanking them for their service and for the last two years our Spirit Week charity has been the Honor Flights – Greenville that provides free trips to veterans to visit the war memorials in Washington DC are just two examples of the commitment of our school to the proper displays of patriotism. I take my responsibility as an educator to teach our students the proper respect and values associated with our country, which entails supporting our students in the proper display of the flag as well as redirecting our students when they may make a mistake in displaying our flag improperly, very seriously. To be perfectly clear, I am 100% in support of the patriotism that our school and community display so well and so often, of our flag, and of our country. The American flag, or any other symbol of our great nation, is welcome to be displayed and honored at our school events as long as it displayed properly and it is not used in any form of parallel taunting or disrespect.
Travelers Rest HS
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.