For some reason I’m not sure anyone would understand, two students from Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, Washington decided to show their “Southern pride” by wearing confederate flags to school (apparently around their necks). School officials suspended the students for violating the school’s dress code, which explicitly bans the wearing of such flags.
Sixteen-year-old Grady says he and his friend showed up at the school Monday morning wearing Confederate flags.
“We put ours around our necks and kind of walked around with them,” said Grady, who asked we not use his last name. “It’s just a way of showing our southern pride, nothing racist at all.”
He says they did it after another student came to class wearing a Gay Pride flag.
“If he can wear his flag in support of what he believes, we figured we could do that as well,” Grady said.
But Tahoma High School has banned the flag, calling it a message of hate. And in response, the school district suspended both juniors, saying their flags upset other students and teachers.“There were complaints from students and staff, yes,” said Kevin Patterson with the Tahoma School District.
This does not comply with the Supreme Court’s precedent in Tinker v Des Moines, however. It isn’t enough that other students or staff complain about it, student speech can only be censored if it causes a material disruption to the school (which is a terrible standard, but it’s still the law). The students are being obnoxious, of course, but that does not mean they don’t have a right to do so in this circumstance. If they file a lawsuit over this, they are likely to win it.