Confederate Clothing: School Safety or Free Speech?

by Dan Cook
September 21st

U.S. District Judge Terry Wooten ruled last week that school officials in Dillon County had acted reasonably in compelling a teenage student to not wear clothing with images of the Confederate flag, the Associated Press reported.

"The defendants possessed substantial facts which reasonably supported a forecast that Confederate flag clothing would likely disrupt the educational environment of the schools within the Latta School District," Wooten wrote.

"The decision reaffirms the right of our community to have an expectation of safe schools," Latta School District Superintendant John Kirby said in response to the ruling.

Representing Candice Hardwick — who was 15 when the suit began in 2006 — attorney Kirk Lyons disagreed with the ruling and vowed to pursue an appeal.

"This would be a good case to take to the Supreme Court," Lyons said. "If the courts allow this to stand, then it is proof that we are a system of gulags that they call public schools."

Who’s right?

Are public schools — wary of provoking racial tensions in the classroom — just being prudent? Or are they trampling on students’ freedom of expression?

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