Principal Lou Lavely from Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina banned students from carrying American flags into a football game against rival Berega High School, prompting harsh reactions from the community.
Since many of the students at Berega are Hispanic, Lavely felt the American flag could have been used to taunt them.
Needless to say, not many were happy.
“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,” said one such person, Hunter Bellew, on his Facebook post.
He wasn’t alone:
A South Carolina school bans students from displaying the American flag during games. "Sigh" 2nd Civil War is fast approaching. Smh— Shook up The World (@RomeRoss15) August 29, 2016
Public institutions that ban the American Flag need to be purged. My tax money cannot continue to go to this. https://t.co/8c3zQW7Btq— Joshua Seidel (@Hazarmaveth1) August 29, 2016
Travelers Rest High School principal Lou Lavely should be fired or deported to Mexico. This is ridiculous! https://t.co/8JsBgXQw0O— W. Scott Morris (@TennesseeTeam) August 29, 2016
We have a liberal idiot in my state of SC. His name is Lou Lavely, principal of Travelers Rest High School. Idiot banned US flag frm games— Jane Spillane (@jane_spillane) August 29, 2016
Despite the outrage, students may have only themselves or peers to blame. Apparently, during last year’s game, some students flew Old Glory and hollered out, “Go home, go home.”
“The principal made a decision in terms of what he thought was best for student safety,” said Beth Brotherton, a spokeswoman for Greenville County Schools. “Because of prior incidents, that was not something he felt like was in the best interest of maintaining a good relationship between the two school communities.”
The principal has since lifted the ban, but he explained his concern and the reason behind the restriction.
“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,” he added. “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.”
The school district also released a statement:
"Today, after meeting with Travelers Rest student and faculty leadership, and with the benefit of time to reflect, Mr. Lavely has reached a different decision. He based this decision on current students’ request that he judge them on their own merits and not based on the actions of past students. As a result, effective immediately, students are allowed to bring the American Flag to any and all Travelers Rest High School events. Instead of restricting possession of the flag, the TRHS administration will, if needed, address the misuse of the flag, or any other inappropriate behavior, on an individual basis.”