'Flag Flap:' Rights and Responsibilities

By now you have  heard about the 'flag flap' at Live Oak High School in the south bay. In short, five students were sent home for wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. Read the most recent article at cbs5.com as well as the related stories posted on that page (the three stories cover the story from the beginning).

The students claim they have the right to wear clothing with the American flag. Site administrators claim wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo is offensive and potentially dangerous.

You will also need to consider such court rulings as Tinker and California Education Code 48907.

What is your stand on the issue? Who is right? Leave a comment here with your views. Be specific in your reasons for your stance. It is recommended that you first compose your response in a Google Doc, THEN copy and paste it into a blog comment. That way you don't have to worry about time out issues.

This is due today, May 12 by the end of lunch.

51 comments:

Savanna said...

I feel like wearing something that represets who you are as an individual, or something representing your country is alright. It is a form of freedom of speech, there have been several cases where kids wear flags to school and it turns into a huge uproar. It is not that big of a deal, if schools ban wearing flags because it is offensive, then they should have to ban all type of clothing, if someone thinks it is offensive. If schools want to ban culture representation, then they should ban everything in that category. What would happen if it was Chinese New Year, or Blakc History Month, what would the school ban then?

Samson Tong said...

The five people sent home wearing a shirt with the American flag on it is at fault. Sure, they have the right to wear the flag any time during the year that they please, but specifically purposely wearing it on Cinco De Mayo is offensive to the Latinos celebrating the holiday. May 5 is a day celebrated by Mexicans and people should not offend them by wearing an American flag. Banning shirt flags could start a controversy because although a shirt does not have the design of a flag, but the shirt colors may cause a stir.

ChristianArn said...

As people, we have the right to do whatever we want, within reason. The students who wore the American flag were clearly within the boundary of reason. I highly doubt that these students wanted to start any "drama." Maybe it was one of those "I wanna be patriotic" kind of days, and they had no intention to create an upstart.

Stephanie Chan said...

The five students at Live Oak High School clearly had no intentions to offend anyone or pose a threat in any way. Students should be able to wear a flag on their shirt, regardless of the holiday. Couldn't students say they "didn't" celebrate the holiday?

Kimmy said...

I actually think that the students who wore the American flag clothing of Cinco de Mayo day SLIGHTLY have the right to wear the shirt. As the Oyez website says, "school environments imply limitations on free expression, but here the principals lacked justification for imposing any such limits." The First Amendment lacks limitation to some principals and therefore many people believe that freedom of speech can be expressed in any way possible. But also, the school was also (sort of) right to send the students home because it was offensive to other people.

Hi:)

Carla said...

Honestly, I don't believe that the five students who wore the American flag as a shirt is at fault. I don't think they purposely intended to offend or cause anything. They should be able to wear whatever they want, and unless what they wear can really ignite or directly cause violence, then that's the time they should be home. The whole thing is just ludicrous. Those students did not do any harm to anything or anyone, so they shouldn't have been sent home.

Beilul Naizghi said...

The students were completely within thier right to wear the American Flag. The school administration completely over reacted and had no real merit in their suspension of the students.
This is a prime example of the administration over stepping their bounds. The fact that their may have been violence as a result of their attire is also a bit skeptical.

Myron said...

Those people who were sent home have every right to freely express themselves by means of clothing. An American Flag is far from hateful speech, and the picture of the shirt was not deemed to be inappropriate for school. The First Amendment guarantees this right, along with Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

Leah said...

We are living in America right? I do not think that students should be punished for wearing the flag of their home country. It just doesn't make sense to me. Ofcourse, it is likely the students wore the shirts with the intention to stir up trouble, however, the idea that they would be punished for wearing the flag is absolutely ridiculous. The students should be able to wear whatever they want, and the administration of the school handled the situation very innappropriately.

colby said...

What a load of pure shit. It's so completely stupid to now allow a student to wear American flags. We are in America and although it is Cinco De Mayo, it doesn't mean everyone is all Mexican. It isn't like the American flag has profanity or suggestive material, it's just an American flag and nothing else. If you are an American and proud to be one, why not be allowed to wear the flag?

Andrew said...

Well, wearing a shirt with the American flag on Cinco de Mayo sounds completely fine. Unless they were going around screaming "America forever! Screw Latinos and Mexicans!" along with wearing the shirt, then they should be kept the right to wear the shirt.

Though, it is right to question this right. Does someone have the right to wear the Confederate flag or a picture of the swastika? In those cases, then the students should be sent home.

Without overanalyzing or going too deep into it, if they were just wearing the US flag, then they were not doing any harm. They have the right to wear that shirt and it's very possible for people not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I don't even think Mexico celebrates it...

Andrew Asuelo (Not to get confused with Andrew any other Andrews...)

Wai Hin said...

In this incident, I think that five students had done nothing wrong. Everyone have their own right to choose what they want to wear. So, those five students had nothing wrong wrong wearing an American flag cloth on Cinco de Mayo. We can see that those five students were not want to disrespect the Mexican holiday, they wore the American Flag T-shirt on Cinco de Mayo because they need to do the drama. So, if they were not disrespect, why the principal suspend them. So, I thiink those five students have done nothing wrong.

Stacy Chan said...

I find this story completely absurd. There is simply no justification to why one person cannot wear a specific flag on a particular day. If anything, United States is the place where freedom and rights should be honored and extended.

Aundrea_Giacomelli said...

Yes, wearing an American flag shirt on Cinco de Mayo may be disrespectful; however, this act is protected under the first amendment. Why should the students remove or turn their shirts inside out. We're in America, can we not display American pride? If anyone finds it offensive then maybe they should go to Mexico. This case is similar to the Tinker case and the black armbands to protest the Vietname war. The right to wear the black armbands is protected under the first amendment. Wearing the American flag shirt IN America is by no means wrong.

sarina said...

Even though wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo is disrespectful to the Mexican population at the school, the authorities have no right to send the children home for wearing clothes that aren't against school rules. As the quote was said in the story, many of the students were probably playing a prank or just trying to start more drama.

Tracy said...

This is STUPID! What's the point here?! OK, so it's Cinco De Mayo, a day for Mexico...and you're not allowed to wear American flags on your t-shirts? Does that mean we can't wear Japanese flags, or what about those soccer shirts with little German flags or whatnot?! Do we have to wear only things that pertain to Cinco De Mayo and Mexican history? What about Independence Day or something? Can we not wear British flags? This is a ridiculous issue, and the school is crazy for dealing with the situation like this. First of all, te students should have the right to wear their shirts, regardless of their intent (if there even was any, since I see no mention of any malicious intent) because of freedom of speech. The issue was hardly even anything of major importance, but they blew it way out of proportion. Even though there is "racial tension" at Live Oak High School between whites and Hispanics, I doubt the other students hardly noticed anyway. (PLUS 2 of those students were Hispanic! Logic?)

Katherine said...

I think that in this instance, the five students who were pushied, were wrongly accused. Students have the freedom wear what they choose as long as it is not offensive or revealing. Obviously, these shirts were not revealing, but in reference to them being possibly offensive, that is wrong. We are all Americans and those students should have the right to wear something representing their country. However, if these students had the intention of of purposley trying to offend other American citizens by deliberatley wearing one country's pride on a holiday for another country, that is somewhat morally wrong.

Marc said...

I feel that what the students did was not right, but I have a feeling that they did not intend for anything to happen. It's just that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexicans day to celebrate and the students, morally, should not have worn those shirts as a group. Everybody does have the right to wear anything they want based on the first amendment so they have not done anything to deserve punishment but they could have worn that on any other day besides Cinco de Mayo. Choosing that specific day intentionally knowing that it's the day Mexicans celebrate the battle they won can indeed spark some "drama."

Ch'Kia said...

I think it was unnecessary to send the five students home from school because of a shirt. The whole situation was blown up to something it didn't have to be, people should be able to wear a flag to school if they want, no matter what day it is. It's called freedom of speech.

Renee said...

The school administration has the right to prohibit any actions that disrupt discipline and order. However, the Principal in this case was not able to make valid justification regarding the reasons of banning American flags shirts on Cinco De Mayo. The explanation of "offensive" did not support the Principal's ban since the action of the students did not stir up any trouble or chaos. As a result, such ban would be a violation of students right.

athena said...

Yes, there are rules for the dress code, but there is nothing stated about patriotism. Clothing is a form of speech. Symbolic speech should not be hindered especially if it wasn't a case of inappropriate clothing which is defined in the school code. To what extent is the American flag offensive, even in a Hispanic community. Cinco de Mayo is actually a more Americanized holiday. It is celebrated much more here than in Mexico.

Giselle said...

Schools are able to celebrate other cultures and holidays that do not pertain to the US. That being said, Cinco de mayo is not a US holiday. Sure the school was celebrating the holiday because it applied to the ethnicities of the school, but the school did not make any rules of what you are allowed to wear. Just because something may incite violence does not mean it is not protected under free speech. Burning a flag may incite violence from patriotic citizens, but the burning of the flag is still protected under the first amendment. The students may have been showing their dedication to the US, but that does not necessarily disrespect anyone who is celebrating Cinco de mayo. If any hostilities arose among students, it is a matter of handling their differing views in a nonviolent way. You can’t prevent students from exercising their right to wear a shirt that was not said to be banned.

Cathie said...

The students have the right to express themselves, but the reason why the school took action was because they purposely did it to offend another race.

I think the school was justified for sending students because they clearly wore the shirts to defame the holiday. Although the action taken by the administration "violates" the First Amandment, the students were just aiming to stir trouble, and could potentionally lead to a race riot.

The students were simply asked to turn their shirts inside out, or take them off if possible. The students were most likely sent home for the reason of defying school administrators.

katie said...

I feel like the students at Live Oak High School were expressing their free speech and they may intently have wore it but it shouldn't have been an issue because they may have not celebrated the holiday!

Crystal said...

As part of freedom of speech, to represent a American flag on cinco De Mayo is probably offensive but not illegal. Unfortunately, for students those under the restrictions and regulations of the school must abide to the ways of authority and if authority says go home then they have to go home. But it is true that the students should not have been sent home.

Terilyn said...

First of all, I think the students did purposely wear American flags on Cinco de Mayo to stir controversy. HOWEVER, the school did not need to act the way they did. After all, if someone wore a tshirt with the American flag on say, Chinese New Year's or Eid Al-Fitr, no one would care. People probably wouldn't even know what Eid Al-Fitr is. (I didn't, until I googled it for this assignment.) Few people would know exactly when Chinese New Year's is. So all of this is completely unnecessary. Talk to the 5 students, ask them what their problem is. Offer a few multi-cultural rallies. That would be much more effective than what these egghead school administrators actually carried out.

Louisa said...

Truthfully, I am not sure which party is right. The students who wore the red, white, and blue clothing on Cinco de Mayo are free to wear what they did, even on a holiday like Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday. The only problem people see surrounding this action is the disrespect present towards Mexican individuals. I would say it is morally wrong for the male students who decided to wear the clothes on Cinco de Mayo. However, legally it is appropriate. The administration cannot prevent the students from expressing symbolic speech, in these circumstances at least. The students who wore the clothes of the colors of the American flag, however, should rethink their judgement and think about the controversy it causes. They should think about how the students of Mexican descent felt when those clothes were worn by fellow classmates. If the Mexican students wore the colors of the Mexican flag on Fourth of July, wouldn't these students be angry? Would the administration or other officials tell the Mexican students that engaged in such activity, "You can't wear that today?"

Courtney Mariano said...

Clothes give people a sense of individuality, so no one should be given the power to interfere. Thus, I feel that the students are right in saying that they should be able to wear their shirts with American flags even on Cinco de Mayo. They may have planned to wear these shirts to get attention, but that does not change the fact that the administration was wrong in sending the teenagers home. Banning the shirts is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This is just an example of a school administration overthinking a situation and acting in a completely unreasonable manner.

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles said...

Unless the five students were intending to wear the American flag on their shirts on that exact day, it is not appropriate morally. Otherwise, if the students were just plainly patriotic, any issue was not necessary. Cinco de Mayo is a day when Hispanics can express their Pride in their countries, but in an American country, you need to expect Americans to strongly take pride of their country at any day, time, or place. Administration of the school took the issue beyond the limits. Unless there was any violence that occurred, which was not explained in the article, suspending the kids was uneccessary.

Michael said...

Sometimes that faint line between free speech and censorship is all too faint to interpret. This isn’t one of those cases. A breach in dress code would be wearing t-shirts with drug references on April 20. Or wearing terror-related shirts on September 11. But an American flag on Cinco de Mayo? Drug references and terrorism is worthy of investigation and consequence. However, the accusation that these students wore the American flag with the intention of defaming Latino culture is highly questionable; there’s no proof. Additionally, there is no probable cause. No threats, just acts of spontaneous patriotism. It would be folly to call this a hostile act. Cinco de Mayo is not a school holiday. Sure, the school should protect the integrity of different ethnic cultures, but they should also respect the patriotic individualism of each student. Undoubtedly it should work that way.

emily said...

Theres nothing wrong with wearing a shirt with any flag on it, the reason they have cinco de mayo is to "commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla."(wiki) Eventhough cinco de mayo is "their day" to celebrate, I dont think its offensive if other race/ethnic wear something to represent their country. Its unecessary for the administration to take action to something that wasnt ilegal.

Jordan said...

I think that wearing the American flag is not offensive or dangerous at all. Representing the American flag is showing respect for your country and pride as an American. It's not as big as a deal as people make it to be. I mean, if you ban the American flag from being worn on clothing is disrespectful to your country.

Teresa-Mae said...

As many have said, people should be able to express themselves, including in their choice of clothing. An American flag should not be taken offensively but rather as a way of showing patriotism. There is no proof that it was meant to offend those who celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Stephanie Ny said...

I believe disallowing the students from wearing their American flag t-shirts is a violation of the freedom of expression and the freedom of speech. Speakers from other countries come to our own country to openly bash the United States. Nobody arrests them because they have the freedom of speech. Similarly, these students should not be punished for their actions.

Brittany said...

Since we live in the United States, where freedoms and rights are extended, there is no reason why the five students were sent home for wearing the American flag. Although the students probably dressed that way to arouse the people [what objective group of people all wear the American flag on Cinco de Mayo...], the students do have the right to wear what they want. In addition, although some may take offense, most students would not and there is no potential danger. It was unnecessary for the administration to send those kids home.

simaran said...

I don't really see what the problem is in wearing the American flag. It's not the people were doing anything illegal or anything. They have a right to wear whatever they want. Like everyone said, i don't think they had any intentions of causing problems, all they did was just wear their flag.

Henry Hung said...

I think that the school and the students with the Mexican flag are at fault. First of all Cinco de Mayo is not a big holiday in Mexico, (it's not even their indpedance day). Second of all they are in the United States of America, not in Mexico. If they hate their current country and love their heritage so much, then they should go back to Mexico.

Chris Habash said...

Last night I was watching the news with my parents, and my mom got mad at some ridiculous controversial story about a little girl who drew the American flag and wrote something about God and religion on it. It seems like there is simply nothing to report on, and people are finding the most absurd stories ever. What's upsetting is that there is no justficiation whatsoever here. I don't understand any claim against those students, who have the right to wear whatever they want. It's like blaming students wearing anime shirts on... cartoon day.. ridiculous like that.

Donnie said...

The five students at Live Oak High School new what the were doing but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are at fault. If they weren't going crazy over making a big deal over the American flag on their shirts I think it was ok. However on the other hand if they were making a scene then they should have been sent home. It is a Mexican holiday but as long as they were just representing their country I think the situation should have been handled differently.

Stefan said...

As long as the students weren't calling Mexican students names, or being prejudiced against them, I don't see the harm in wearing an American flag shirt. They may have just felt that they wanted to support their own country (Which all partys are IN, making the situation rather ridiculous, but not slandering another. Is the students were calling Mexicn students names, or being racist in general, I will fully support the administration. Otherwise, I feel like the kids didn't do anything worth gettign kicked out of school for. Clothing is a form a free speech, protected by various laws.

Chloe said...

SORRY THIS IS LATE! :(

Students have the right to wear whatever they want. Arguably, five students wearing an American flag T-shirt on the same day (Cinco de Mayo, nonetheless) is suspect and likely planned, however they, like the students in the Tinker case, are protected under the First Amendment. Still, if this was planned, and supposed to be humorous, it is not. It’s stupid, foolish and terribly pointless. But in any case, the school should not and cannot punish them.

Julia Maniquiz! said...

With the “flag flap” issue at Live Oak High School, the administrative body was entirely incorrect in sending the five students home. What students choose to wear is a direct reflection of who they are and is, therefore, a personal decision – a decision, moreover, which is protected by the First Amendment. Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Comm. School Dist. Is precisely the same issue, and it was ruled in the favor of the students. In this case, the donning of a black armband as a form of protest was ruled “closely akin to ‘pure speech’” and, thus, protected by the First Amendment. Furthermore, according to the California Education Code 48907, “Pupils of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin boards, the distribution of printed materials or petitions, the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia.” These are two cases which clearly support the Live Oak High School students. They had every right to wear what they chose to wear, and they should not be punished for such behavior.

Sheralynn said...

A few administrators at HHS come to mind. The "flag flap" at Live Oaks High School was a violation of the freedom of expression. The five students involved had every right to wear the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. It is protected under the First Amendment, the California Education Code 48907 and Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. If burning the flag is protected under the First Amendment as a freedom of speech, then wearing it or representing it should be and is justified as a freedom of expression. This freedom of expression did not disturb the peace or disrupt the learning environment of Live Oaks in any way. On the contrary, the accusers disrupted the students' learning environment for sending them home, forcing them to miss their classes. To bring this issue to a local standpoint, being hunted down by the administration for wearing leggings and shorts or skirts that pass the rules stated in the planner but don't satisfy the administrators' personal requirements is a disturbance of the learning environment of Hercules High School. So is being expelled for cross-dressing, which is a whole other issue I won't touch on for the sake of not making this already lengthy blog comment longer. First of all, most leggings cover all of the legs. Once caught, the administration tells the students to find sweats or basketball shorts to change into. Basketball shorts reveal more than leggings do. For shorts, the rules in the planner clearly state that the shorts are legitimate as long as they aren't shorter than the tips of the student's fingers when the arms are straightened at the sides. I recently got caught for shorts for the first time this year. Ms. Williams had a coach she was with during lunch flag me down and bring me to her, and when I walked up to her I relaxed my arms at my side, straightened my fingers and showed her that my shorts were longer than my fingertips. She said, "I know it says that in the planner, but..." But what? Those are the rules, and I've been at this school long enough to know them, and you obviously think you can change them. She argued that students' clothes need to be "decent." I was offended but I bit my tongue, knowing that any counterarguments I made would be wasted (on her and of my time) and would definitely prove to be unproductive. I looked down at myself - I was wearing a big crew neck sweater and shorts that reached mid-thigh. Then I laughed. Girls walking around this campus in low shirts and heels were more "indecent" than I was. I also laughed at the fact that the administration spends so much of their time on this useless "issue." As far as I and many others are concerned, shorts and leggings are comfortable (comfort at school is key. When students come to school comfortable, they are less likely to be distracted and more ready to learn), and the hassle of avoiding administration and having to waste time talking to them, finding alternative clothes, going to the office or waiting for someone to drop clothes off is much more a distraction and disruption of our learning environment than students actually wearing them.

Wendy said...

I was absent today. Sorry for the late post. Thank you so much!

The school administrations were completing their job in protecting the safety of students in the school. They had the reason to prevent any violence that may be incited by the clothings of the five students. Even though the ban stopped students from practicing free speech; however, I think that the school had to responsibility to put safety to the first place as students cooperate by following instructions.

Haley K. said...

Those students should not have been repremanded for wearing their american flag shirts, as they were simply exercising their freedom of speech in the form of clothing. It was therefore completely unnecessary for the administrators to force the students to be sent home. However, there is one exception that I find could have avoided this entire issue. While the students did have the right to express their love for America, wearing the shirts on a different day would have been a wise move. It is inevitable that students celebrating Cinco de Mayo would recognize the shirts, and feel disrespected to some extent.

Andrew Gabriel said...

I think the admin. is wrong for making it wrong. The kids held up their rights and just decided to wear it. Would it have been different if they were wearing a Canadian flag? Yes because it is not relative to the actual country. I personally would not have noticed the offensive until they mentioned it.

Sabrina said...

Wearing a flag, especially our country's flag, is not disrespectful. Actually it is respectful if anything. I was watching this show on mtv called "High School pranks and controversies" where a Hispanic student wore his country's flag and was suspended. Students retaliated by making their own country's flag and wearing it. It help sparked a riot which is what the principal was trying to avoid in the first place. The principal in the article was trying to prevent any danger from occurring, but went about it the wrong way.

Chris Mendoza said...

The students have the right to wear what they want as a freedom of expression/speech.A shirt is a shirt, whether it is a statement, and will not do any harm. Those who are offended have the right to ignore. Besides the students were showing pride in their own country as well. The students have been wronged.

Darlena said...

Although I think that the students were being quite immature and provocative, they do still have the right to wear those shirts. The school administration's concern over the possible controversy surrounding the students' actions is understandable, but there is very little they can do.

Fiona said...

People have the right to do whatever they want, but with reason, of course. The students who wore the American flag had the right to do so. I honestly don't think these students wanted to start anything bad. It may have been an upstart, but it probably was not intentional.

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