- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2016

Confederate flags were banned at a Bloomington, Indiana, high school this week after several students complained about classmates sporting the stars-and-bars on campus.

The principal of Bloomington North High School told parents Wednesday that the ban was being implemented after several students said they recently felt “unsafe” after seeing their classmates wearing the flag like a cape.

“As an educational institution, one of the things we focus on is teaching tolerance for opposing points of view and civil discourse surrounding controversial issues,” wrote Principal Jeffry Henderson. “Balancing the First Amendments rights of all individuals in a democracy can be a challenging task. Doing that with teenagers, can prove to be even more challenging.”

Citing a Supreme Court ruling from 1969, Tinker v. Des Moines, Mr. Henderson said schools can limit the First Amendment rights of students whose actions significantly disrupt their educational environments.

“Throughout the day, this issue has evolved into one that has created a substantial disruption to the educational environment,” he wrote. “As a result, students may no longer wear or display images of the confederate flag on their clothing or any other personal item while at school or a school-sponsored event or function due to the disruption it has created.”

Andrew Clampitt, spokesman for the Monroe County Community School Corporation, stood by the principal’s decision.

“That is something we won’t stand for as a school corporation. Any incident that causes a substantial disruption we can’t allow and that’s where we stand as a corporation,” Mr. Clampitt told Indiana Public Media Wednesday. “We don’t want to hinder our students’ learning abilities. That’s one of our top priorities.”

According to one student, the classmates who donned the Confederates capes did so amid high tensions caused by the recent presence of gay pride flags in the school.

“They were using the ‘F’ slur and they were saying that if the gays get to wear the rainbow flag, then they should get to wear the Confederate flag, because it represents their heritage,” one unnamed student told the local ABC affiliate.

“It also has become something that symbolizes anti-gay at our school,” opined another student, Gaia Hendrix-Petry.

The Confederate flag “was hanging behind people as they were lynched. It was hanging behind those who were enslaved. It is a direct symbol of oppression and to bring that into our school, to bring the symbol of hatred into our school. It is just unacceptable,” Gaia said.

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