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Expression in Schools....or What One Person Can Do

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Some of you may remember the situation at a middle school that I posted about in the Protests...thread. The one where the dress code was changed so that no political messages, camouflage, or flags are allowed any more. My friends took up the cause, contacted local news stations, and staged a protest on Monday. The asked us to help them out by putting up a website for them, and a petition that people can sign:

www.FreeSpeechforStudents.com

(Please sign IF you support the statement... The petition will be printed and brought to the Principal)

What one person (or family in this case) can accomplish is amazing. Yes, there were other parents who were upset, but they took the bull by the horns. This story is now getting national coverage. They have been contacted by local stations in surrounding states and beyond. They are going to be on The O'Reilly Factor tonight - they actually wanted to fly them out there tonight, but they are doing a "via satellite" interview instead. One of the talk stations is now raising a legal fund for this because by Colorado law this is illegal (to ban the flag or red, white and blue) - the show that is doing this is done by two practicing lawyers who contacted the Attorney General and the ACLU today. As far as I know, there will be another protest on Friday at the school.

To say I'm overwhelmed that it got this big by ONE PERSON raising their voice and saying that this is WRONG is an understatement.
post #2 of 18
Ah, makes me proud to be a member of the ACLU. I'm so glad that their voices are being heard. Hopefully this will open a dialog so that everyone can voice their opinions instead of assaulting each other, however mildly. That isn't a good environment for anyone.
You might want to consider having the school host a forum also, inclusive of parents, community, students, etc. I would also invite the police, as it tends to encourage politeness, not necessarily because you fear there will be violence.

post #3 of 18
No Flags???? Camoflauge!! Give me a break, there are better things to worry about then stupid stuff like that.....Maybe they should be focusing more on the students themselves then what they wear on their bodies...geessh...How far is too far? I can see someone wearing a shirt that promotes drugs on school drugs, but to have someone wear a flag of whatever country they choose...that is discrimination!! (during the olympics I proudly wear German and American flags...go teams!! )
post #4 of 18
oh yeah, and what does illigal immigration have to do with wearing flags!! Where do you sign at, can't find the link to that part, or do I hit contact.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Here's the direct link to the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/ShawMS/petition.html

It's only been up since late this afternoon...
post #6 of 18
This started in the Illegal Immigration thread down below.
The hispanic students were threatening students, taking flags from them and ripping them up, cursing "fu** the US" etc. I'm not clear as to if there was retaliation from non-Hispanic students. I'm sure there was at some level, subtle or not, as middle school kids are middle school kids.

Separately, there was a student at my school who wore a plain white shirt and then pinned an american flag to it, upside down. (I wasn't friends with him, he was a jerk, but that's irrelevant). So, one kid jumped him, beat him up, called him all sorts of names, etc. A teacher got angry during class and told him to get out, started yelling about how his brother died in Nam, and sent him to the Principal. The principal called the lawyer for the school system, who said that since it was creating a disturbance, he could be forced to remove it. The interesting thing was that the kid who assaulted him was never so much as called to the office, let alone punished for assault.

I sort of, kind of, understand why the school system thought the easiest way out was to just remove the offending items. But they're wrong. Students need to be taught to tolerate the viewpoints of others, and if they are offended, to talk about it instead of being violent or cursing. That is a very valuable lesson that I think the schools are failing miserably to teach. Simply telling everyone to not wear anything that might make someone else mad is ridiculous. There was another girl who wore a shirt that said "Heaven isn't for everyone: Only Christians," and she wasn't allowed to wear it either. But these students weren't doing anything offensive like that. School's say in what its students say is a very fine line in public schools, but I think the admin. in the case we're talking about is wayyyyy on the wrong side of that line.

Just another viewpoint, aside from it being insane to outlaw american pride or patriotism. I have no problem with any of it, aside from that little addition to the pledge of allegiance in the 50s. If its okay for them to be proud of their heritage, then how do they have a problem with other people being proud of theirs? Especially when you're in their country.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by enigma
No Flags???? Camoflauge!! Give me a break, there are better things to worry about then stupid stuff like that.....Maybe they should be focusing more on the students themselves then what they wear on their bodies...geessh...How far is too far? I can see someone wearing a shirt that promotes drugs on school drugs, but to have someone wear a flag of whatever country they choose...that is discrimination!! (during the olympics I proudly wear German and American flags...go teams!! )

I agree. As a future teacher(only 3 more years yahhh!) I think that too much time is devoted to silly things like that instead of like lets say, the childs reading ability.
I could see if the school went uniforms, as I am for them, to make things a little more equal and that kids don't have to think about that stuff..anyway..

I think that kids should be allowed to wear pretty much what ever as long as it is decent(covered) and isn't ment to harm or offend (like racial, etc.) and no gang bandana's here in canada in the schools because we need them to be safe spaces and not recruiting grounds for teen street gangs.

I think if the kids protested too then that would be cool. Like I would have my son make his own shirt to say whatever he wanted and then wear it to school. Something with a message anyways.
post #8 of 18
He made his own Anti-Flag shirt, they are a band, their logo or whatever is an upside down american flag. I have a shirt just like that but it is green and I didn't make it myself, I bought it at one of their shows.

this is just one variation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
Separately, there was a student at my school who wore a plain white shirt and then pinned an american flag to it, upside down.
post #9 of 18
I'm all for the freedom of speech in schools- even to the point that it may test some boundaries as long as the aforementioned material is not racist, religious to the point of singling out and offending people of different/no religion, or in any other way blatantly intolerant.
post #10 of 18
(edited: I signed the petition)

Last November, I participated in the Chicago rally/march of a nationwide protest against The Shrub. There were kids from some of the local high schools who'd announced their participation in the rally. It was morning, mid week (it was the one year anniversary of the election). The plan was to walk out of school (mostly in defiance of his NCLB act) and march up to the rally in the Loop. The administration backed down at the last minute and locked the doors, refusing them exit. My understanding is that someone in the administration had okayed the action earlier. They announced this predicament at the rally. Everyone booed and hissed at the name of the school.

I think eventually, with the aid of some teachers and parents, the kids were allowed to join us. It took a while to get them out of the school. The fact that they were being oppressed from speaking their minds was hideous and wrong. Just because they're not old enough to vote, doesn't mean they can't have opinions. They have the right to learn about justice, rights, equality and everything else. Text books are fine, but to have the chance to experience it is something else entirely. Free speech is part of why this country was founded (though at first it was freedom of religion... I have Mayflower ancestors) and it's so written in the Constitution. I chose my political party and stance at 15. I knew what I believed even then. And it hasn't changed in 18 years.

This is a volatile time, but no more volatile than during the Vietnam war. I believe the rioting was worse then... but I wasn't alive then, just know of stories. I think us 'bleeding-heart liberals' have been rather tame... but also the attitudes of those in 'charge' have become more extreme conservative. Too many control freaks in charge of the government and education systems. And, oh gee, look how it's all going down the toilet. But that's more than just a few feathers to ruffle here...

Jumping off my soapbox now... must go grocery shopping.
Amanda
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
I don't see how the administration and school district can possibly uphold this policy, since it is in direct violation of a Colorado law that makes it illegal to ban the "reasonable display" of flags on a person or their property. Basically, the new dress code was a knee JERK reaction to less than 10% of the students in the school being out of line about the immigration issue (on both sides). The Attorney General has said that he will write a letter to the schools (there is a high school in Longmont that "requested" that students not display flags or the colors, and has threatened suspension to the kids who didn't comply with that "request") about the law and strongly urge them to change the policy. The ACLU has not responded, unfortunately. The radio show said they got 5 digits in pledges for a legal fund if it would come to that. And Kirsten and Eric did a pretty good job on The O'Reilly Factor last not (though it was not with Bill O'Reilly as he is on vacation).

Thank you to everyone who has signed the petition.
post #12 of 18
Jen, if it had been a band I don't think this would have happened. He was in my first-period class and it was an actual american flag pinned to his clothes upside down, like one of the little ones you get at parades and such. I asked him about it and he said nothing about a band, and alot about how he thought Americans had disgraced the flag and how wearing it upside down expressed his displeasure. He said it alot more hostilely, though, and I was just asking him why he was wearing it.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
Jen, if it had been a band I don't think this would have happened. He was in my first-period class and it was an actual american flag pinned to his clothes upside down, like one of the little ones you get at parades and such. I asked him about it and he said nothing about a band, and alot about how he thought Americans had disgraced the flag and how wearing it upside down expressed his displeasure. He said it alot more hostilely, though, and I was just asking him why he was wearing it.

actually flying the flag upside down mean to distress (country or otherwise) or as a distress signal. Nothing more.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
Jen, if it had been a band I don't think this would have happened. He was in my first-period class and it was an actual american flag pinned to his clothes upside down, like one of the little ones you get at parades and such. I asked him about it and he said nothing about a band, and alot about how he thought Americans had disgraced the flag and how wearing it upside down expressed his displeasure. He said it alot more hostilely, though, and I was just asking him why he was wearing it.
ohhh I see, heh well at least he had a good reason for it and wasn't just wearing it to piss people off or for no particular reason at all.
I used to wear an american flag patch upside down in high school, it was on my backpack, but i was a huge fan of the band at the time. I rememebr my mom was like oh my god, but that was the patch they sold at their shows and stuff.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
She caved after some BIG pressure from the Attorney General came down on her, as well as the threat of an imminent law suit brought by parents (lawyers were all but retained...). Of course, not before 5 students were suspended for wearing clothes with flags or supporting the military (USMC, to be specific). Their records will be expunged of that disciplinary action since the dress code was illegal.

There was still a rally this morning at the school, which we attended. It was smaller than it could have been since she rescinded the dress code last night, and because it was a cold rain/snow mix. But there were still about 150 people there supporting the rights of the students and the students who stood up to her. Almost all of the news channels in the area, many radio personalities, and the Rocky Mountain News were all there too. It was pretty funny - there were nervous administrators lined up in front of the door to the school. Did they think we were going to storm the school or something?
post #16 of 18
This reminds me so much of two pending legal cases in the county where I live. Swastikas and the like are illegal in Germany, for good reason. However, the local district attorney seems to be carrying enforcement of the law to extremes. There are some neo-Nazi groups in the area, and some high school students used a poster showing a swastika crushed by a hammer to express their disdain. They're now facing a heavy fine because of the swastika, and their posters have been removed. Last week, a local member of the Green Party posted an image of a swastika being thrown into a trash can, with the words "No, Thank You" above it, on his website. Guess what? His website has been blocked, and he's facing a heavy fine, too. How ridiculous is that????
post #17 of 18
It seems odd that saying something so wrong (idea behind swastika) is bad (in trash, crushed by hammer) would be illegal because it uses that symbol. Are people allowed to use the original swastika, the ancient one which has nothing to do with nazis? I think the bars face the other direction? (remember that temple in the Olympics in japan that was ancient, and people were calling NBC by the millions to complain?)
Oh and YAY for the school realizing that the policy was absurd. Any word as to whether the other kids who were assaulting people will be punished?

And Arg0- I am not sure where you live, but in my experience wearing the American flag upside down means a whole lot more than distress, and just saying that it doesn't doesn't affect the intentions of the person displaying a flag upside down. We know what they mean, and they know what they mean. I doubt someone in a high school thought that he was on a sinking ship.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
It seems odd that saying something so wrong (idea behind swastika) is bad (in trash, crushed by hammer) would be illegal because it uses that symbol. Are people allowed to use the original swastika, the ancient one which has nothing to do with nazis? I think the bars face the other direction? (remember that temple in the Olympics in japan that was ancient, and people were calling NBC by the millions to complain?)
The swastika in any form whatsoever is illegal, and Germans react allergically to it. My grandmother's brother was stationed in Germany immediately after WWII (he'd served under Patton during the war), and he gave her a beautiful linen tablecloth he'd bought in Berlin. She put it away for a rainy day, and gave it to my mom in 1980. My mom decided to use it when my parents were supposed to meet my sister's prospective in-laws, who are Jewish. My brother, husband (German) and I were setting the table, and I'll never forget the expression on my husband's face when he saw that the "good" tablecloth was covered with swastikas! My mom had washed and ironed it without paying attention to the pattern! Apparently, if I had the tablecloth, and put red Xs through the pattern, I'd still be breaking the law here because of the mere existence of the tablecloth.
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