A predominantly white high school in Indiana has banned the Confederate flag after students came out in droves wearing the racist symbol to class.
According to the New York Daily News, Lapel High School prohibited all Confederate gear, including T-shirts and sweatshirts, that display the flag. The need for this ban came after a group of students wore apparel with the flag emblazoned on it for two consecutive days at the start of the school year.
Additionally, students plastered the flag on their cars and even arrived to school in a caravan of vehicles decorated with it.
School administrators reportedly met with each of the students individually to discuss this mass display of support for the Confederacy.
“We sat down and spoke to each student one-on-one and discussed the situation and what their intentions were,” the school’s principal, Chad Kemerly, told the Indy Star. “They said they were trying to support the Southern heritage of the flag and not people’s opinion of what the flag may stand for.”
However, he also noted that school officials enlightened the students on the racist undertones of the flag.
“We talked about the Southern heritage and that for many people that flag stands for racism. We emphasized they need to know what the message they’re sending (is),” Kemerly reportedly said.
Unfortunately, diversity is not strong in Lapel. The population is overwhelmingly white, with only eight of the high school’s 450 students being African-American.
This particular issue escalated as the students’ attire began to cause “disruption” during classes and students got into confrontations in the halls.
“We weren’t able to carry on some classes as usual,” Kemerly said. “There were discussions in the hallways taking place that shouldn’t have been taking place.”
Although none of the students who wore the symbol faced disciplinary action, the entire school is now banned from wearing and displaying the controversial flag.
In addition to banning the flag, Indiana radio station WIBC reports that Black Lives Matter T-shirts were prohibited.
On the surface, it's understandable why the school would ban all potentially offensive and political paraphernalia; however, it sends a damaging message to equate Black Lives Matter shirts to Confederate battle flags.
These two symbols and the history behind them represent polar opposite perspectives. One perpetuates hate, and the other a declaration of racial equality.
Perhaps instead of treating them the same, Lapel High School should be incorporating a comprehensive strategy to teach its students about their stark differences and the complex messages that certain symbols convey.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Miranda Pederson