- Christopher Hartless, a Virginia student, has been pulled out of Staunton River High School by his parents after refusing to remove large American flags from his truck.
- The school emphasizes the rule exists due to the flags’ potentially “distractive nature” and concerns over student safety.
- While the school remains firm on its policy, the student and his family continue to uphold their stance on expressing First Amendment rights.
Controversy has erupted at a Virginia high school where parents have decided to pull their son from classes due to a school policy which prohibits the display of large American flags from vehicles.
Christopher Hartless, a student at Staunton River High School in Bedford County, found himself in the eye of the storm after the school revoked his parking pass.
The decision followed his refusal to take down the prominent American flags that adorned the back of his pickup truck.
According to WSET 13, Hartless argued that he’s merely upholding his First Amendment rights by displaying the flags. His sentiments were strongly backed by his stepmother, Christina Kingery.
Hartless’s family took the stand that unless he was permitted to exhibit the flags, homeschooling would be their chosen path.
Speaking on his motivation, Hartless expressed, “My family fought for America, and I feel like I should be able to represent the flag that they fought for.”
While the issue was gaining traction, the school decided to circulate a weekend memo. This appeared to be an indirect response to the ongoing situation.
The notification highlighted, “Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature.”
They also clarified that this rule has been part and parcel of the student parking contract for several years across all three of the county’s high schools.
Furthermore, the school emphasized that parents and students provide their consent to this policy when they apply for a school parking pass.
However, Hartless voiced his disagreement with the rule. He raised the question of how the flags could be seen as a distraction, especially when “every other student can see” the American flag flown on the school’s flagpole.
Nevertheless, Hartless defied the directive and, on a particular Monday, arrived at school with the flags still flying high. This act led to the school reiterating their order to remove the flags and subsequently revoking his parking pass.
Supporting her stepson, Kingery conveyed to the media, “If they’re willing to change and let kids want to fly the American flag, then I’ll put him back in Staunton River … possibly put him back in Staunton River.”
However, she firmly added, “But if they don’t, then I’m going to continue to let him fly his flags.”
Addressing the controversy, the Bedford County school system clarified their stance to ABC 13. They underscored that the central issue was student safety and potential distractions caused to other drivers by large banners or flags.
However, they added that students could display “small American flags or stickers of the American flag on their cars.”
The school administrators emphasized the prior agreement on the parking rules and ended by stating they do not typically comment on individual student disciplinary actions.
Interestingly, the school’s policy does not restrict students from wearing clothing that depicts the American flag.
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