A Virginia high school student says he stood up to his high school when he was told to remove American flags from his truck.
High school senior Christopher Hartless told WSET that he was just exercising his First Amendment right to fly the American flag by displaying it on his car. However, just minutes into class on Wednesday, Aug. 16, officials at Staunton River High School told him he was not allowed to do so.
The family told the outlet the school administration told him he needed to take the flags down because it was a distraction. But, Hartless refused.
“My family fought for America and I feel like I should be able to represent the flag that they fought for,” Hartless told WSET. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
The school appeared to respond to the controversy Aug. 20 in a “Parent Weekly Update” letter with a “Flag clarification.”
“Last week, we conducted a standard review of the Student Code of Conduct,” the letter reads. “Unfortunately, there has been some incorrect information posted on several social media websites, so I would like to make a clarification about the American flag on student attire, safety provisions in our student parking contract, and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.
”The BCPS Code of Student Conduct prohibits ‘Attire that has language or images that are offensive, profane, vulgar, discriminatory, or racially/culturally divisive. This would include confederate flags, swastikas, KKK references, or any other images that might reasonably be considered hurtful or intimidating to others,’” the letter continues. “It does not include wearing clothing with American flag logos or prints on attire. This attire is allowed.
“Regarding flags on cars, the student parking contract, which has been used by all 3 of our high school for many years, states, ‘Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature.’”
Hartless told WFXR he didn’t understand how it could be distracting when the school has an American flag hanging from a flagpole.
“I don’t understand how it’s a distraction if they have one displaying in the front of the school where everyone can see it,” he told the news station.
After being told multiple times to remove the flags, Hartless’ school parking pass was revoked, according to WSET.
Hartless’ father told WFXR that he stands by his son and disagrees with the school’s policy.
“First you can’t fly the flag, next you can’t do this, next you can’t do that, sooner or later you’re not gonna have no rights at all, and then where are we gonna be?” Allen Kingerly told the outlet.
In its letter, the school said it “proudly (flies) the American flag throughout the school.”
Both Hartless’ father and stepmom say they will support him and have decided to move forward with home-schooling, according to WSET.
A school board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 14. Hartless’ family says they will be there and encourage other members of the community to attend as well, WFXR reported.