Branson students sent home over Confederate memorial shirts
School policy forbids offensive or distracting clothing
September 08, 2012
by Mary Moloney and Brandon Foster, KSPR News
BRANSON, Mo. — Preston Baughman is known as a champion of Southern heritage. The Branson native wore shirts with the confederate flag almost daily, just like his dad.
"Preston wore the confederate flag just about every day. It was rare you seen him without it on," said Mike Baughman, Preston’s father. "Graduation night, out of 300 and some kids that graduated with him, he was the only one the entire class stood up and saluted when he went across the stage that night. And he was wearing the flag under his robe."
After graduating from Branson High School, Preston Baughman died in a crash. His family put up three crosses and draped his favorite flag over them. Shirts were also made with his favorite symbol, the confederate flag.
"His shirt has a rebel flag in the front and a big one on the back," said brother Austin Baughman. "And that’s the one I got kicked out of school for last Friday."
Branson High School Students have to adhere to a dress code. Anything that can be perceived as offensive or distracting must be taken off or else the students can be sent home or suspended.
"I’m not going to stop teaching the kids about their heritage and that’s what the school to me is trying to do. They are trying to take that away from them. And I don’t feel that it’s right," said Baughman.
Friday, a group of Branson girls wore confederate flag themed shirts. They were told to turn their shirts inside out or go home.
"I really like these shirts because it’s got the cross and the flag and it says ‘Southern Christians’ which is what we are," said student Allysa Crum. "It’s embarrassing and it’s wrong. They singled out me and my friends over our southern pride."
The Baughman family is no stranger to the policy. Throughout their time at the school, all three kids were sent home for wearing confederate shirts. Preston and Austin were suspended for the clothing choices.
"I know that everybody thinks the flag stands for discrimination and racism because the KKK does use it as a symbol," conceded Mike Baughman. "But a lot of them need to look it up and really read how the flag really became about."
Not everyone is a champion of the confederate. On KSPR’s facebook page, over 100 people commented on the issue of the confederate flags in schools. Many said the symbol is offensive and racist.
For the Baughmans, the flag will forever fly in honor of Preston. His parents and sister all have tattoos with his name or initials along with the confederate flag.
"This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had done," Mike Baughman said choking up and pointing to his tattoo. "It was in memory of Preston and I wanted a cross with the rebel flag wrapped around it."
Monday, a group of students plans to wear Preston’s memorial shirt to Branson schools, regardless of school policy.
Copyright 2012 KSPR-TV