Recent incidents, like the deadly violence at Charlottesville, Virginia, have prompted schools and other public institutions to reconsider their policies regarding the display of symbols, including flags. However, citizens in some cases feel these changes go too far.
According to Fox News, one Minnesota high school banned all flags from being displayed in its parking lot–including the American flag. In response, students organized a peaceful protest in which they flew American flags from their vehicles. The school promptly reversed its decision.
Rocori High School in Cold Spring, Minnesota, had instituted a flag ban for its parking lot last spring. As KARE 11 reports, Rocori School District Superintendent Scott Staska said the ban was placed because students were displaying the Confederate flag on school premises.
According to a post on the Rocori School District Facebook page, administrators wanted to keep students from feeling “threatened” or “unsafe” due to flags. Their statement reads:
“The conversations focused on the issue of flags that might cause other students to be threatened, uncomfortable, or feel unsafe in the school setting. Students and school leaders fully agreed that celebration of our nation is desired but disrespect is not acceptable or desired.”
But the wording of the rule added to the school handbook meant that not even the American flag could be flown. This detail proved controversial among the student body, leading to a protest in the parking lot of Rocori High School.
A group of approximately 30 students gathered to call for a revision to the flag policy. Peaceful protesters displayed the banner on their cars and trucks, garnering support from the community.
One parent said: “I’m here to support my son who’s making a stand. This is his truck and he’s proud of his truck, and he’s proud of his American flag. He has a sister who’s a sergeant in the Marine corps and he’s proud of his sister.”
Many adults sided with the students, dismayed that “Old Glory” would be banned at an American school. “My son came home from school and told me that they weren’t allowed to fly the American Flag on their vehicles anymore,” said a parent. “We just didn’t think that was right by no means at all.”
Witnesses report the protest was “peaceful” and “respectful.” Staska even remarked, “If you could have a protest, you would want one like what the students did today.” Eventually, the district acquiesced to the student protesters’ concerns and amended the ban to allow display of the American flag. Students celebrated their victory.
A Minnesota high school banned all flags in its parking lot and students organized a peaceful protest. Can they ban the American flag?
The Rocori School District made the following statement on Facebook: “Student leaders have offered to help support an approach that allows American flags to be displayed on vehicles while, at the same time, helping to encourage respect for others.”
“The students want their peers to feel safe and comfortable in school and understand that other flags can be disruptive and harmful or cause emotional responses in others. As a result of the interactions, the handbook guideline will be withdrawn by ROCORI High School.”
As the New York Times reports, historical monuments are coming down across the US. In addition to Confederate statues, monuments to famous figures like Christopher Columbus are also being targeted. The recent student protest at Rocori High School suggests Americans are drawing a line in the perceived assault against cultural symbols.