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Teens Suspended for Wearing Confederate Flags to Protest LGBT History Month

Monday Oct 14, 2013

A pair of 16-year-old students in Maple Valley, Washington got some time off for bad behavior in the form of a suspension from school last week for wearing Confederate flags to school in an apparent statement against LGBT Pride Month; KIRO TV reports.

The suspended teens claim their decision to wear the "stars and bars" to school was a response to a classmate who wore a rainbow flag to school in honor of LGBT History Month. The boys wore the flags in common areas around several students who got upset. A woman picking up her nephew at school saw the flags as a symbol of slavery and racism and commented, "I can see where we wouldn't OK that -- there's too many ethnic backgrounds that that could offend,"

"If he can wear his flag in support of what he believes, we figured we could do that as well," said one of the suspended students, who only gave the name "Grady" in an interview with KOMO News further stating "We put ours around our necks and kind of walked around with them, [..] It's just a way of showing our southern pride, nothing racist at all."

Tahoma School District spokesman, Kevin Patterson said that school officials had warned the boys not to wear their Confederate flags, yet "they chose to bring them anyway, labeling the teens' behavior "disruptive" and unfair to the other students. "They have a right to be there and not have their classes interrupted by this kind of event," Patterson said.

As KIRO TV reported, while students say they see the flags in cars and trucks and flown at football games, some do think this was different. "You don't expect kids to show up with a Confederate flag on their back," Coleman Wooten, a student in 12th grade.

And while "Grady" claims to understand how people might be offended by his Civil War inspired apparel, he considers it free speech.

The Tahoma School district is not alone in their response to their students' chosen form of free speech. In 2011, the Huffington Post reported that a 14-year-old New Jersey was suspended for wearing a Confederate flag sweatshirt to class. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union became involved in the case of an Oklahoma student suspended from school for flying the rebel flag from the back of his pickup truck.

Both students will return to class this week.


  • Bob K, 2013-10-15 05:10:40

    It’s important to notice that this is a southeastern suburb of Seattle, not someplace over in the Idaho-adjacent mormon/evan part of the State.

  • Wayne M., 2013-10-16 16:57:42

    It may be free speech or it may be irresponsible speech. However, what it does prove it that bigotry of any kind has a common root. Those who maintain it is okay to discriminate against one group also usually support discrimination against others. I also believe that the existence of Gay-Straight Alliances at high schools can do a great deal to encourage understanding and respect.

  • , 2013-10-16 23:16:40

    It’s free speech and I’ll defend Grady’s right to wear whatever flag he wants to wear. That being said, anyone who wants to wear a rainbow or Pride flag shirt should be able to do so without repercussion. Gdhamf is correct..... We need more speech to combat hate speech. And then everybody will see who stands where.

  • nick, 2013-10-19 11:06:19

    "Southern Pride??????????" Really?????? Bet you these knuckleheads couldn’t name the capitals of three southern states. No one would care if they walked around with a t-shirt that said "I love my southern heritage" or "Alabama Pride" but the confederate flag is a symbol to many of division, racism, and persecution.

  • , 2013-10-19 19:57:15

    What is racist and bigoted is the distortion certain members of our society that view the Confederate flag is racist and bigoted, and that anyone wearing or carrying one is a racist or bigot. Hate is an equal opportunity offender, and nothing is worse than an intolerant society which teaches intolerance, basically what ever the Confederate has been distorted to define is clearly defined in the bigotry of a society which chooses to ostracize others for their ethnic heritage. Its called hypocrisy people and the bigoted comments above and that will likely follow are evidence of who the real bigots and racist are.

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