When I saw the title of this article and did not recognize ijr.com, I thought this was going to be bad new for the LGBT community. I mean, we are talking Indiana, not the most LGBT positive newsworthy state in recent history. But I was pleasantly surprised.
On Wednesday, a number of students at Bloomington High School arrived to class wearing shirts and hats featuring the Confederate flag, as well as a few who even had them draped across their shoulders like a cape.
The demonstration was reportedly a response to gay pride flags that had been put on display around the school, one in the library and another in a teacher's room.
While these students have argued that they were simply expressing themselves, many of their classmates were reportedly so upset by the Confederate flag's presence that they were driven to tears:
"Everyone felt pretty unsafe. Me, myself, I could not even eat lunch.
It's made me sick to my stomach, absolutely. If you can't feel safe in school and that kind of thing is going on around here, it's not just me. It's the collective feeling of everyone." – ijr.com
Later that day — after about 50 parents, students, and educators met with administration — the decision was made to officially ban any display of the Confederate flag from “the school or school-sponsored events.”
Emma Cannon, who leads a student group that advocates for LGBTQ rights and safety, praised the decision, adding that “many people in the room broke into tears” when the announcement was made.
Others, like student Destiny Sherfield, argued that it's not right to ban one flag but allow another:
“I want to either have both flags banned or both flags brought back, so it's equality.
I just want equality for everyone and just be able to express ourselves the way we would like to express [ourselves]."
Legally, students at public schools have their right to free speech protected by the Supreme Court case Tinker vs. Des Moines.
Under the ruling, however, a school “may censor a student if administration can prove the speech caused a disturbance to learning” — which is exactly what Principal Jeffry Henderson said was happening.
In a letter to the school community addressing the ban, Henderson added:
"Balancing the First Amendment rights of all individuals in a democracy can be a challenging task.
Doing that with teenagers can prove to be even more challenging." – ijr.com
What do you think? Did the school do the right thing?
Is there a place for the Confederate flag in modern day America or does it belong just in the history books?
Will there be a day when the rainbow flag will be just a piece of history?