In an effort to push forward a right-wing agenda, several students from the Fayetteville High School wore Confederate flag shirts to school. The clothing, which was covered in the red, white, and blue of the Confederacy, was enhanced with their bodies and faces painted with Confederate symbols. Because the Confederate flag is tied to the states that left America in order to keep Black people enslaved, school officials asked the students to remove the body paint and cover up their Confederate flag shirts.
The students refused to comply with the request. As a result, the school asked the students to leave for the day and return the next day wearing clothing that was appropriate for the location.
A ninth-grade student, Jagger Starnes, said: “To us, it’s not hate, everyone is saying it’s hate, it’s our history. We live in a southern state, and if we were doing it for hate, we wouldn’t be wearing it.”
Jay Dostal, the school principal, said: “The Confederate flag is a symbol, and it has a long history, 150 years, tied to being the ideas of racism, hatred, and bigotry, and because of that, it’s not allowed in our school setting.”
The official rule regarding the dress code for the district states: “Attire that disrupts the educational process or otherwise interferes with the rights or opportunities of others to learn or teach is considered improper and unacceptable.”
The principal claims to be following the rules by asking the students dressed in Confederate flag clothing to leave for the day.
Dostal added: “I’m just looking at strictly the board policy. I shared with the students outside of school if you want to wear that, absolutely go ahead.”
Meanwhile, Jagger wants an apology from the principal. He claims that Dostal called him a racist, even though the principal denies anything of the sort.
“I would never call a student a racist. Absolutely not,” Dostal responded.
“I’m honestly not racist,” the boy said. “I have friends that are black. I have friends that are Mexican. You know I’m not racist by any means.”
Keith Starnes, the father to Jagger, was proud that his son showed up to school wearing the Confederate flag on his shirt.
He said, “I support him in any way he’s doing it because that’s what he’s standing up for. If he was doing it for hate, then it would be different, but he’s not, so yeah, I’m going to support my son.”
However, Principal Dostal stands by his decision to ask the students wearing “attire of hate” to leave the school when they did not agree to cover up.
“In a diverse school setting like we’re in, it’s important that we keep all kids safe and let them feel safe and free from the Confederate flag,” Dostal said.
However, Jagger plans to keep wearing the Confederate flag clothing to school even though it earns him a reprimand and punishment. He wants to make a statement and does not plan on backing down despite the pushback from the school administration.
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