Should the Confederate flag be banned from schools? This is a topic that has always caused a lot of controversy, but it has recently made headlines following events in Charlottesville this past July. The debate centers around the question: Is this a violation of the first amendment? Also, is the flag a symbol of oppression or a symbol of heritage? Most recently, all Durham County Public Schools have banned the Confederate flag from the dress code. Other local schools, such as Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County, have already banned clothing featuring the flag. Some argue that banning the flag only causes more debate and protest than before. Others counter argue that it prevents distractions and conflict, by not allowing symbols that many people see as a threat. However, due to the current political climate, this is not an issue that can be ignored.Voyager Academy has been facing this question and, as of this writing, has not made a decision. The Viking Tide asked some Voyager High Schoolers on which route they think Voyager should take and why. “No, I don’t see the issue (in banning the flag). The reason behind this is, when I see the Confederate flag, I think of the hate it brought my people in America,” says Madison Carter, a sophomore. “Students would be mad because they think you’re violating their right to expression,” said Kyla Crooks, sophomore. Shawn Sullivan, another sophomore, states: “I don’t think they should ban it because I’ve never seen it. If they ban it, it would only bring attention to it… There’s more history to a confederate flag than a KKK symbol, like that would be a different story.”
This brings us to the legal questions of banning the flag on campuses. Is banning the Confederate flag in schools violating the first amendment? There have been several cases of this brought to court, including Castorina ex rel. Rewt vs. Madison County school Bd., Bethel School District No. 403 vs. Fraser, and several others. However, in the end, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that schools banning students wearing clothing that shows the Confederate flag does not violate the first amendment. In civics class at Voyager, the students had to do an assignment on taking notes of a video on the Tinker vs. Des Moines case.
In July of 2015, following the murder of nine African Americans in a South Carolina church by white supremacist Dylann Roof, CNN took a poll to see what viewers thought of the Confederate flag. The questions was whether one saw the flag as a sign of racism or “Southern pride.” As results poured in, the final numbers showed 33% felt it was racist and 57% believed that it was a sign of Southern pride. CNN says that, “The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride.” Even following the Far Right march in Charlottesville, 43 percent of Americans polled still believe it’s a symbol of pride, compared with 38 percent who view it as a symbol of racism, according to an August 2017 Economist/YouGov poll. A Reuters poll, also from August, agreed with those findings, and stated that 54 percent of people said Confederate monuments should remain in public spaces, versus 27 percent that believe they should be removed. Both polls find responses split along party lines. In the end, it’s the people’s choice whether the Confederate flag shall remain in schools or be banned.
Agiesta, J. (2015, July 02). Poll: Majority sees Confederate flag as Southern pride – CNNPolitics. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/02/politics/confederate-flag-poll-racism-southern-pride/index.html
NC schools ban ‘racially intimidating’ clothing amid Confederate flag controversy. (2017, June 13). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://eagnews.org/nc-schools-ban-racially-intimidating-clothing-amid-confederate-flag-controversy/
Confederate flag in school and free speech (October 2016 School Leader Update). (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.educateiowa.gov/resources/laws-and-regulations/legal-lessons/first-amendment/confederate-flag-school-and-free-speech
Willets, S. (2017, August 28). Durham Public Schools Ban Confederate Flags, Other Divisive Symbols. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2017/08/24/durham-public-schools-ban-confederate-flags-other-divisive-symbols
Volokh, E. (2015, September 21). Opinion | The Confederate flag, the First Amendment and public schools. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/21/the-confederate-flag-the-first-amendment-and-public-schools/?utm_term=.a9c21e480fe0
Kahn, C. (2017, August 21). A majority of Americans want to preserve Confederate monuments: Reuters/Ipsos poll. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-protests-poll/a-majority-of-americans-want-to-preserve-confederate-monuments-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKCN1B12EG
Frankovic, K. (n.d.). Trump’s domestic crisis: Charlottesville and white nationalists. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://today.yougov.com/news/2017/08/16/trumps-domestic-crisis-charlottesville-and-white-n/?belboon=031b3908984b04d39400589a%2C4711850%2Csubid&pdl.rlid=203577