TRAVELERS REST, S.C. – School officials’ decision to ban students from displaying the American Flag at a recent football game is creating controversy in a South Carolina school district.
On Friday, Travelers Rest High School principal Lou Lavely banned students from carrying American flags into a football game against Berega High School, because a lot of students at Berega are Hispanic. Lavely contends the American flag could have been used to taunt those students, WNCN reports.
“Some events at last evening’s football game have resulted in concerns being raised in our community. I am writing to assure that any decisions made regarding American flags being permitted into the game were made in the best interests of all attending the game and in the spirit of patriotism and respect for our flag,” Lavely wrote in response to Facebook backlash about the ban, which turned away several students who came to the game with American flags.
“Any decision to not allow the American flag to be used in an improper ‘taunting,’ unsportsmanlike manner is first and foremost in the interests of promoting the safety and well-being of all in attendance at school events. This decision would be made anytime that the American flag, or any other symbol, sign, cheer, or action on the part of our fans would potentially compromise the safety of all in attendance at a school event.”
Lavely’s prepared statement assured community members that officials “have the utmost respect for our flag and strive to display the highest levels of patriotism,” and the school supports veterans, but the potential for taunting was too much to allow the American flag inside of the stadium.
The principal’s comments came in response to a picture of one attendee with a large American flag speaking with a local police officer at the gate, and a message about school officials censoring Old Glory.
Hunter Ballew wrote:
Lou Lavely, Travelers Rest High School Principal, continues to power trip and strip young Americans of the right to proudly boast this Nation’s flag.
Last night I picked my brother up from the TRHS Football game and he told me that Lavely had denied entry to a couple of young men with American flags. I can’t deny the rage I felt as this is the third incident I’ve had involving Lavely and the flag I love.
First, the day after Osama was killed in 2011 we were told we couldn’t have the American flag on our trucks on school property and the TRPD came and handled the situation. Lavely later apologized to our group.
Second, I was picking up my youngest brother and saw two high school boys handling our flag with disrespect at the flag pole as they let it drag the ground and he acted like it was not an issue.
Third, last night as I took the flag and attempted to enter myself he stated, “I have the authority to tell anyone they can’t bring it on the property.” Unfortunately the cops were not helpful and sided with Lavely even after stating “you’d probably win if you took it to the school district.” I’m no expert and don’t know the laws in and out. But.. if he has the power to strip Americans the right to boast the American flag after being pumped up about our Olympic run there is a much bigger problem. A problem that needs to be resolved.
I’m sick of this political correctness. We need to do something about it because it’s not getting any better.
Berea High School principal Mike Noel backed Lavely.
“I am in full support of Mr. Lavely’s actions at the football game on Friday night. He was protecting the greatest symbol of our nation, the American Flag,” he wrote, according to Greenville Online. “His decision was based on the premise that the American flag should not be used in a disrespectful or unsportsmanlike like manner. He made the right decision.”
The resulting controversy prompted Travelers Rest Police to clarify its position on the flag ban, as well.
“It seems to be the opinion of a vocal few that the TRPD, by being forced to intervene in this incident, somehow endorses the barring of the American flag from the game. That could not be further from the truth,” Chief Lance Crowe wrote in a prepared statement.
“The irony is that our officer pictured in the photograph making its rounds through social media is himself an Army veteran, and he disagrees with the position in which he found himself, but that cannot prevent him from doing his duty as a sworn guardian of the peace,” Crowe wrote. “Simply put, if the school administration has a policy that if not followed would result in a person being removed from the school property, the police have to intervene at that moment if the person refuses, especially if the person becomes overly argumentative during his protest.”