A South Carolina High School received a wave of backlash this past week after school administrators decided to “ban” the American flag from being brought into football games. Principal Lou Lavely of Travelers Rest High School cited his reasoning based on the flag being used at previous games to “taunt” and “disrespect” Hispanics along with chanting “go home, go home.” Travelers football team was playing another school (Berea High School) this past weekend that has a large Hispanic student population. School officials were allegedly concerned that the American Flag would possibly bring out the worst in people and decided to error on the side of “safety” concerns.
As expected, the proposed ban lasted all of two days. School administrators were blasted on social media, within the community and by law enforcement, and even Berea High School stated that they didn’t need protection from the stars and stripes. Subsequently, Travelers Rest High School opted to waive their own white flag at the pressure. After some “reflection”, the district struck a different tune in a statement to the public.
Today, after meeting with Travelers Rest student and faculty leadership, and with the benefit of time to reflect, Mr. Lavely has reached a different decision. He based this decision on current students’ request that he judge them on their own merits and not based on the actions of past students. As a result, effective immediately, students are allowed to bring the American Flag to any and all Travelers Rest High School events. Instead of restricting possession of the flag, the TRHS administration will, if needed, address the misuse of the Flag, or any other inappropriate behavior, on an individual basis.
Travelers High School may have made an initial knee-jerk reaction to past behavior by their students that could be interpreted as discriminatory, or at the very least unsportsmanlike, but their reversal is refreshing in a world where one-size-fits-all punishments are becoming the norm. The actions of one or a few students should not impact an entire student population or community. Addressing the issue head-on and holding persons directly responsible seems to be a reasonable, and logical, solution.
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