- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A South Carolina high school has reversed a ban on the U.S. flag at football games after a flag was confiscated from a student Friday night, sparking national headlines.

The Greenville County School District released a statement Monday afternoon after a meeting with Travelers Rest High School Principal Lou Lavely and student and faculty leaders, a local NBC News affiliate reported.

“Effective immediately, students are allowed to bring the American Flag to any and all Travelers Rest High School events,” the district said in a statement. “Instead of restricting possession of the flag, the TRHS administration will, if needed, address the misuse of the Flag, or any other inappropriate behavior, on an individual basis.”

The district said at least one American flag was confiscated from a student at Friday night’s football game against Berea High School after Mr. Lavely banned flags from the stadium.

“Mr. Lavely based this decision on past incidents in which TR students used the U.S. Flag, in conjunction with verbal taunts, to target Hispanic members of the Berea community in a manner that was both unsportsmanlike and also a misuse of our Flag,” the district’s statement said. “Though social media reported that Mr. Lavely restricted the flag because it might offend members of the Berea community, Mr. Lavely vehemently denies believing or stating that the Flag might be offensive to that community.”

Alivia Waynick, a senior at Travelers Rest, said she was reprimanded for bringing her American flag into the stadium’s student section, The Greenville News reported.

“An administrator walked up behind me and said ‘No American flags,’ and I asked why and they said ‘because it could offend someone,” she recalled. “When they told me I had to put it away, I respected their authority and I took my flag and put it up.”

Students Haiden McCall and Noah Cutler said they were denied entry to the game because of their American flags. They told NBC that that decided to boycott the game and sit outside with their flags in protest.

Travelers Rest Police Chief Lance Crowe said an officer had to step in after seeing a man with a flag getting into an argument with a woman.

Chief Crowe criticized the school’s decision to ban the flag.

“It’s bigger than just the school,” he told The Greenville News. “You know, the city of Travelers Rest, our image and our brand, we’re starting to be known nationally right now as a high school that won’t allow an American flag to be flown. It’s the way it’s being said and that’s kind of an unfair oversimplification, but I have to worry about the image of the Travelers Rest Police Department and the city of Travelers Rest too.”

A group of students at Travelers Rest High School drafted a statement Monday night in response to the ban reversal.

“We simply wanted to express our patriotism by carrying the flag, a flag brave men and women died for, a right guaranteed to us in the first amendment,” the students wrote. “We do not in any way condone using the flag to taunt others and that is not what happened on Friday night. The flag unites people of all races, religions, ethnicities, and cultures under freedom and liberty.

“The student body fought for the right to carry Old Glory and unified like our fore fathers to stand for what we believe to be right,” the statement said. “As a result, we saw positive change and will no longer be denied the right to carry the flag to our school.”

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