SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS:
UNION COUNTY, KY SCHOOLS' BAN IS ILLEGAL, BIGOTED
While readily admitting that there has been no unrest at the Union County Middle School, school officials plan to "ban" students from wearing Confederate symbols as some sort of preventative or politically correct measure. This action is illegal and prejudiced.
The Supreme Court, in the landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District defined the first amendment rights of public schools students. This decision protects passive displays of speech which are unaccompanied by material disruption. More recently, the federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed a Kentucky case specific to Confederate symbols. In Castorina v. Madison County School Board the 6th Circuit affirmed that Tinker applies to Confederate symbols worn by students, and "the school board cannot single out Confederate flags for special treatment". This is now the law in Kentucky. If the Union County School Board wants to avoid the likelihood of an expensive lawsuit defending a policy the courts have already ruled illegal, this "ban" must stop immediately.
"Not only is it flatly illegal," said Don Shelton, spokesman for the Kentucky Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, "it is bigoted. The school principal states that he wants to teach students the 'fact' that Confederate symbols are 'racist'. However, Southern students - of all ethnicities - are taught by their parents that the Confederate flag is a symbol of honor carried into battle by their ancestors. For them to be taught by the public schools that the flag is de facto racist is no different than teaching Jewish students that the Star of David is a hate symbol, or Christian students that the Cross is anti-Semitic."
It is a lazy educator who would misrepresent history and cultural heritage so offensively. True tolerance and diversity includes Southerners and their heritage and urges different cultures to respect symbols and heritage of others - not the promotion of intolerance toward one group as some type of "solution". That is just bigotry disguised.
Presently the Sons of Confederate Veterans is supporting numerous freedom of speech cases, as it supported the Castorina suit, and will provide advice and support to parents and students in Union County if the school system makes it necessary.