American Students Banned From Displaying American Flag – Courts Cite Safety Concerns

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that officials at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, a suburb of San Jose, acted properly in banning t-shirts and other patriotic, red white and blue clothing on May 5th, aka Cinco de Mayo.

School officials were worried about violence and disruption of school activities stemming from the students wearing patriotic clothing. The clothing and accessories according to Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez is deemed “incendiary” and “it has no place on a day celebrating Mexican heritage”.

Court documents said, a large group of students carrying Mexican flags had clashed with students who hung an American flag from a tree on May 5th, 2010.

The case started when the principal of Live Oak High School asked a group of students wearing American flag T-shirts to turn their shirts inside out or take them off.

liveoakLive Oak High School students from left, Daniel Galli, Austin Carvalho, Matt Dariano and Dominic Maciel were sent home from school on Cinco de Mayo because they were wearing American flag T-shirts.

Dariano’s mother, Diana, told she and parents of the other four students have been demanding an apology from officials. “We want an apology,” Diana Dariano said Thursday. “Who in the United States of America would have an issue with that? It’s a sad, sad day.”

“I’m more hurt than anything,” she said. “It is so hurtful and disrespectful the way this has turned. These are American kids.” The boys told Rodriguez and Principal Nick Boden that turning their shirts inside-out was disrespectful, so their parents decided to take them home.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Julie Fagerstrom, Maciel’s mother, told the Morgan Hill Times. “I’m an open-minded parent, but it’s got to be on both sides. It can’t be five kids singled out.”  Galli told NBC Bay Area, “They said we could wear it on any other day, but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it.

The day of the incident more than 100 students were spotted wearing the colors of the Mexican flag — red, white and green — as they left school, including some who had the flag painted on their faces or arms, according to the Morgan Hill times.

Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California-Los Angeles, said the students are protected under California Education Code 48950, which prohibits schools from enforcing a rule subjecting a high school student to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct, that when engaged outside of campus, is protected by the First Amendment.

Check out the initial news report below:

Judges said the civil rights case forced them to weigh the difficult question of what takes precedence: students’ free speech rights or school safety concerns?

Opponents say it’s a slippery slope and could set precedent for safety to out weigh individual rights. They also point out that the school in question is a public school paid for by tax payers, stating that if the school was a private school it would be acceptable to ban the patriotic clothing but since it’s a publicly funded school, the oppressive ruling violates the student’s rights and goes against the First Amendment.

This ruling is reminiscent of another issue lurking around Concord. For the past few years the public has boycotted the City of Concord’s Fourth of July Parade because one of its yearly performers, a Mexican group with dancing horses, waves the Mexican flag throughout the entire Concord Fourth of July Parade. It was citizen out cry and protest that provoked the group in 2010 to add the American flag to its performance. Every year protesters have boycotted the parade in its entirety and instead opting for hosting their own private Fourth of July parties in homes and backyards across the East Bay.


What do you think? Do you support the courts ruling? Should the boys stop wearing the American Flag on May 5th? Do you think a Fourth of July Parade should wave a flag from another country?


4 responses to “American Students Banned From Displaying American Flag – Courts Cite Safety Concerns

  1. Two of these five students are 1/2 Mexican yet believe in American pride. The fact that the court ruled for safety over freedom, especially freedom of wearing the Counties colors blows my mind. On top of that why are Mexican kids taking offense to someone wearing the colors or THEIR Country, Mexico might me where their parents came from but they are Americans, if Mexico is so great, they should leave.


  2. I find this to be terribly disturbing. The 9th Circuit Court is off their rockers.


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