A Virginia high school student has made the decision to leave his local high school and pursue homeschooling after school officials demanded he remove two American flags displayed on his pickup truck.
According to Fox 19, Christopher Hartless, a student at Staunton River High School at Bedford County Schools, claims that displaying American flags on his pickup truck is protected by the First Amendment.
“My family fought for America, and I feel like I should be able to represent the flags that they fought for,” Hartless told the news outlet.
Hartless’s stepmother, Christina Kingery, explained that the school’s administrators demanded her son remove two American flags that were mounted on his truck last Wednesday. The school administrators claimed that the display of the American flags was a distraction for other students.
Less than a week later, Hartless was once again directed to remove the flags from his truck by school administrators. The high schooler’s parking pass was also revoked by school officials.
“I don’t understand how it’s distracting if they have one on the flagpole that every other student can see,” Hartless said. According to Fox 19, Kingery announced that she and her husband are “both going to stand behind him all the way” to fight for what he believes in. As a result, the family has made the decision to homeschool Hartless.
“If they’re willing to change and let kids want to fly the American flag, then I’ll put him back in school,” Kingery stated.
Following backlash in the media, Staunton River High School released a statement Tuesday, claiming that the “underlying concern” in the rule that school administrators referenced when approaching Hartless about the removal of the flags on his truck is”student safety.”
“A recent news story raised concerns about the Student Driver Contract for the Bedford County Public Schools (BCPS),” the school stated. “The contract, which has been in place in all three of the high schools for over a decade, prohibits student drivers from flying large flags or banners on their vehicles due to their potential to distract or obstruct the view of student drivers as they are navigating the school parking lot.”
Staunton River High School told Fox News that while the Code of Students at Bedford County Public Schools prohibits “offensive, profane, vulgar, discriminatory, or racially/culturally divisive” attire, the school code does not prohibit students from wearing attire that displays the American flag.
“This attire is allowed,” the school stated. “Regarding flags on cars, the student parking contract, which has been used by all 3 of our high schools for many years, states, ‘Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature.'”
While Staunton River High School demanded Hartless remove the two American flags displayed on his truck, the district told Fox News that the high school “proudly” continues to display the American flag “throughout the school” and recites the Pledge of Allegiance “every morning.”