Archive for Friday, January 29, 2016

Lawrence high school students create petition to ban Confederate flag districtwide

Free State High School

Free State High School

January 29, 2016


Before school administration decided to disallow it, the full-sized Confederate flag had been flying from a makeshift flagpole on a student’s truck in the Free State High School parking lot for more than a week. The flag may be gone, but it isn’t banned, and some students would like to change that.

Unlike policies banning hats or T-shirts depicting alcohol or drugs on school grounds, there is no school or district policy banning the Confederate flag. Several students at Free State have started a petition to create such a policy and plan to present it to the Lawrence school board at an upcoming meeting.

“Although it’s definitely great that the school administration has taken the initiative to go ahead and say that they’re not OK with (the flag), it’s definitely still important to try to make it an official policy so that people do know about it and it’s something that is part of all rules,” said Abena Peasah, a junior at Free State and one of the students who drafted the petition.

Related document

Student petition to ban Confederate flag ( .PDF )

Peasah and three other students drafted the petition calling for a district policy to ban the flag that has gathered more than 200 signatures since it began circulating late last week.

More than a quarter of the 1,700 students who attend Free State are nonwhite, and about 6 percent of the students are black, according to statistics from the Kansas State Department of Education. Districtwide, more than 30 percent of students are nonwhite.

Without a specific ban of the flag, any future decisions regarding its display would be made on a case-by-case basis. District officials said this week’s decision to disallow the student from flying the flag was based on the disruption of the learning environment. Lawrence schools Superintendent Rick Doll said that decision was made in conjunction with the school’s principal, the president of the school board, the district’s legal department and Doll himself.

“Students don’t give up their constitutional rights when they enter the school house door, that’s kind of basic school law,” Doll said. “But balance that with a disruption to the learning environment, and in this case, we decided that the disruption outweighed or trumped the right to free expression.”

The students opposed to the flag's display don’t think that decision should be made case-by-case. The petition cites six court cases involving school districts that have ruled in favor of a school environment free of disruption or upheld a school’s decision to ban the flag. The petition also states that allowing the flag to be flown violates Free State’s own discrimination and harassment policy.

“Having to walk past an unequivocal symbol of racism and discrimination on our way into school is hardly freedom from discrimination,” the petition states.

That school policy states that the Lawrence public school district is committed to providing a positive and productive learning and working environment, free from discrimination and harassment. The petition claims that allowing the flag fails to maintain a safe and positive atmosphere:

“A symbol of slavery and white supremacy cannot lead to a positive environment for its students. This flag creates a hostile environment that is fragmenting our school. It is impossible not to see this blatant display of racism as a threat to students’ safety. After all, we are speaking of the very flag flown in a war on the side committed to the subjugation and eternal slavery of African American people.”

The school’s discrimination and harassment policy defines discrimination as follows:

“Discrimination is conduct which affords a student different treatment, solely on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner which interferes with or limits the ability of the student to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or programs of the school.”

The petition also notes other school policies, such as banning hate messages on clothing, gang symbols and the wearing of hats in school, and that those practices are inconsistent with allowing the Confederate flag on campus.

“We fail to see how the school can ban wearing hats within school yet ignore the symbol of slavery,” the petition states.

Peasah said the petition is currently circulating at both Free State and Lawrence high schools, and that she is working to add the proposal to the Lawrence school board’s agenda. The board’s next meeting is Feb. 8.


Richard Ballard 2 years, 2 months ago

While I agree flying flags off your pickup truck in the HS parking lot all day probably isn't something I would do.

Would this have had a different result if it had been an American flag?

If it's just about the Confederate Flag being offensive to 'some people'?

Why don't we just ban the American History class's too, so nobody gets their pants in a wad again?

Like it or not, it happened!

And some of us lost ancestors on both sides in a war both sides believed in.

And it wasn't all about slavery.

Political correctness may finally be the end of us remembering What Not to do again!!!!

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

So, the fact that the Civil War happened, Mr. Ballard, means that the symbol of that war is perfectly OK? Some of us lost ancestors in a hell of a lot of places, Mr. Ballard, but we don't insist on flying the German or French or Iraqi flags, now, do we? The Civil War was not "all about slavery" but about some states' rights to determine the rights and lack of rights of its citizens. Yeah, Mr. Ballard, there was more, and it was settled in the end, but the stupid, blind obeisance to human inequality lives on, even today. And if you think you can convince the world that racism is OK because you lost an ancestor fighting for the "right" to subjugate any human being, to raise yourself above another human being, because your skin is a different color, you further the cause of inequality and racism in this nation. So did the kid who "proudly" erected a flag pole in his truck and flew the very symbol of racism.

As to your straw man (would this have been any different if this were an American flag?), do you think that anyone views the flag of the Confederacy the same way they view the American flag? Your attempt at equating the two is a blatant stab at giving the Confederate flag legitimacy in today's society, and another furthering of racial injustice.

Political correctness? Substitute, maybe, humanity, empathy, or any word that means you remember what the struggle has always been about. Flying this flag is something you "probably" would not do means, Mr. Ballard, that you might just decide to after all. And that's the meaning of that flag, isn't it? That you reserve the right to be a racist whenever you want to? To let those uppity others know just where they stand in relation to the "real American people"?

Get a clue, Mr. Ballard: this is the twenty first century and those who advocate any injustice, in any way, are going the way of the Dodo. It's not over, yet, but the kind of quasi-religion attached to racism will disappear along with those who advocate it.

Have a good day.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

And what, other than that you only have a need to laud silliness, was great about it, Justin?

Nathan Anderson 2 years, 2 months ago

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a school's ban of American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.

William Pilgrim 2 years, 2 months ago

Looks like Richard's school banned American History class quite a while ago.

David Reynolds 2 years, 2 months ago

I believe if we ban the confederate flag & other such symbols we miss a tremendous opportunity for a “Teaching Moment”.

The Confederate Flag, or any symbol, or words, are only racist if we allow them to be.

These symbols are part of our history and should not be lost. They should be used in a positive way (teaching moments in our schools) to show how far we as a society have come, versus serve as a reminder of how bad things were.

By banning these symbols and words, versus using them to teach history, we as a society lose. By teaching versus banning we over come fear, prejudice, break down barriers in society, and create understanding of the influences that have molded the different cultures in our society. In short we change behavior.

By banning versus teaching we also lose the ability to teach history correctly & how far, why, & how, historically, society has moved in the area of civil rights, so such things do not occur again. We lose the ability to inoculate society against history repeating itself. We lose the ability to strengthen the thinking of our young to not be susceptible to the intoxication of evil influences. In short we do not change behavior.

I remember how society in the free world reacted negatively to the book burnings in the past & the banishment of books in our schools for some politically correct esoteric reason. In those processes society lost the ability to teach.

By banning symbols we will have regressed, not moved forward.

Curtis Lange 2 years, 2 months ago

Park off school grounds then walk to class. Problem solved. Kid 'wins' by getting to keep his flag and school 'wins' by keeping the car of school property.

Ken Easthouse 2 years, 2 months ago

I want to applaud these students and their efforts. Not only are they actively participating in the management of the school, but they are generating public consent and citing court cases to support their argument. This is how you build your arguments when you want to enact change.

Students like these are why I have hope for the future.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

It is why the nation does NOT need public education to be private schooled.

At first I questioned the banning of this Confederate Flag decision. However I applaud the students becoming involved as it will likely raise the awareness of what the confederate flag represents to many and perhaps educates the person that displays the confederate flag. Most of us likely had no idea.

However it also raises the issue of displaying the American Flag and what representation that has come to demonstrate.

As we watch how so many politicians declare our rights no longer our rights such as:

--- the right to public education

--- a right to protest against the war,a polluted environment, government mismanagement and illegal wiretapping on all USA citizens.

--- the right to union representation to bring about higher wages and equality that which Right To Work legislation is destroying.

--- the right for a woman to choose

--- the right to choose our own attire while at the statehouse

--- the right to single payer health insurance which provides all people in the USA the best health care across the board.

--- the right to vote without harassment without being subjected to voter suppression

--- the right to maintain Social Security Insurance and Medicare Insurance

--- the right to medicaid by way of OUR federal government

--- the right to have the league of women voters to take back control of our presidential debates FROM the private corporation known as the Presidential Debate Commission Inc

It's time for America to take back America and the American Flag!

Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

How about --- the right to zero interference that which special interest campaign financing imposes.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

Remind me, again, Bob, what misconceptions I might have about you.

Justin Hoffman 2 years, 2 months ago

Wow, these kids sure are learning at a young age how to silence those who have a different opinion than them. They will fit right in as adults in Lawrence.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

Justin, you haven't a clue as to show to act as an adult, whether in Lawrence, Illinois, Alaska or Iraq. Grow up, and have a real opinion based on reality.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 2 months ago

While this country continues to struggle with equality, racial, sexual, et cetera, I don't think that the cause of equality is advanced by restricting the freedom of speech.

I'd leave well enough alone; it sounds like the administrators are already dealing with things that are disruptive to a learning environment.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 2 months ago

The flag is a symbol. It means different things to different people. To me, it represents a period in the past that should never have happened, and those that fly it are romanticizing a history that was never what they want it to have been, are actually promoting racial superiority, or are promoting some other notion I don't understand, but it does not mean the same thing to everyone.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

Agree, Chris. It is a symbol and it does exactly what you said. But, going further, it simply and wholly promotes the racist, exclusionary thought that went along with that era, and, as such, has no place in America other than as a museum piece, explaining the entire history of its origin and the ideology behind it.

Too, I have asked, several times, for those defending this exhibition, what it is that that flag symbolizes to them. I have had not one single answer. To me, that means there is no logical reason for showing it other than to disrespect the nation and some of its people. And I don't think I will get an answer.

Justin Hoffman 2 years, 2 months ago

"And I don't think I will get an answer." ---And you won't by continuing to put people down and acting like a child.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 2 months ago

I'd be interested in hearing your reason for flying a Confederate flag.

Jesse Thompson 2 years, 2 months ago

I would also like to know your reason for flying a Confederate flag.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 2 months ago

Because that is what it means to the majority of people, it is wrong for government entities to fly it as other than a museum piece, but the value of individuals being allowed to express ideas, even stupid or abhorrent ones, is more than the harm caused by the expression of those ideas.

It's why we allow anyone to shout whatever they want from a street corner. But, at the same time, allowing people to shout whatever they want on school grounds would be disruptive to purpose of why those grounds exist.

I think the administrators already have covered shouting in the halls. I'd leave conversations between individuals alone.

Clara Westphal 2 years, 2 months ago

To some people, it just means they are proud to be a southerner. Have any of the posters ever been in the deep south?

Paul Beyer 2 years, 2 months ago

Born and raised there. How about you? We still have far too many all over the country that don't realize how racist that rebel rag is.Including far too many in my own family.

Mike Wasikowski 2 years, 2 months ago

I would recommend that people who want to express pride in being a southerner find a way to express that pride that doesn't simultaneously express sympathy for a movement dedicated to preserving the legality of keeping black people as personal property.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 2 months ago

Don't you have a state flag or some other symbol not used by racists to harass people of color? Are you proud of the KKK, like this Georgia state representative? Is this the south you are proud of?

"State Rep. Tommy Benton is an unapologetic supporter of Georgia’s Confederate heritage.

He flatly asserts the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery, compares Confederate leaders to the Founding Fathers and is profoundly irritated with what he deems a “cultural cleansing” of Southern history. He also said the Ku Klux Klan, while he didn’t agree with all of their methods, “made a lot of people straighten up.”

By straighten up, do you southerners mean, toe the line. Don't look a white person in the eye? Drink from the same water fountain? Don't talk to a white woman, unless you are her Black maid? Quit trying to whitewash the Southern history. Germany hasn't tried to whitewash their racist past, so they could change for the better. If you start denying your racist past, then you are doomed to repeat it. Quit living a lie.

But I guess if you are racist, you might as well let everyone know, like this young man did. But you seem to think he has more rights than those of us who fight against racism. I'm sorry, but racists have a far worse history than Blacks rioting, or groups working peacefully against racism. Or are you southerners now going to deny lynchings. "Oh, they just fell out of the tree while playing with their little rope." Quit trying to change facts.

Clara Westphal 2 years, 2 months ago

The Civil War was not fought over slavery.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

Bull. Clara, give us the "real" reason. The Civil War had many causes, but the right of a state to allow slavery was a root cause. Making excuses for that is why bigotry flourishes today and why the rebel flag flies. Slavery was an economic "need" in the south, and it bred the dual class system in which it was necessary to have a people subservient to the others. Clara, we bought people to become slaves. Bought them. And slavery was not a cause of the war? Quit making excuses.

Jesse Thompson 2 years, 2 months ago

No, it doesn't Clara. The flag proudly flown today by those who would "stand for the segregation of the races," is not actually the Confederate flag. Several variations appeared of the original Stars and Bars. Robert E Lee apparently used it as his unit's flag. The flag at issue here was not seen much until Strom Thurmond used it during campaigns. We all know what he stood for. I lived in the Deep South and have experienced first hand what that flag really means to the racists who proudly display it. Nobody is fooled by comments such as yours.

In spite of the ugly history of that ugly flag, I don't think it should be banned. The school administration had every right (by Sup Ct law) to deal with speech that disrupts the learning process. In effect, it is already "banned" from school property.

Bob Smith 2 years, 2 months ago

The students are getting prepared to fit in with the special snowflakes at KU.

Paul Beyer 2 years, 2 months ago

And they are making a strong statement about racism, which far too many are too stupid to recognize exactly what that Confederate rag really stood for.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

Again, I ask, Bob, what am I misconstruing about you? You haven't contributed a thing to this conversation other than the childish insults you toss out. If you want me, or anyone, to take you seriously then be an adult and say something you can hang your hat on. Otherwise, you come of as a troll, and a not very intelligent one, at that.

Bob Summers 2 years, 2 months ago

What have you contributed besides your ideology? I would mention your name calling but that's part of your ideology.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

I asked about you, Bob, not about me. And received no answer, by the way.

And it's my ideology I'm proud of and am pushing. That IS my contribution to this conversation. That I put myself forward as one who upholds the rights of all citizens seems to anger some and invite the derision of others. And then, folks such as you and Justin simply deny without putting forth any counter arguments. And you find it sufficient to simply deny everything. That's why I would like to know what about you I've misconstrued about you. Or what your real opinion of this particular item might be.

Bob Summers 2 years, 2 months ago

It's not fair. Why do Liberal ideologues get to ban all the flags?

Bob Smith 2 years, 2 months ago

I do wonder what will be the next thing they'll want banned. Is there a copy of Rules for Radicals in the high school library?

Michael Kort 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, some kid got his 15 seconds of public attention ......and he didn't even have to lay on the floor and kick his feat or scream and cry !

High school is "obviously" the place to make any kind of offensive statements that are racist that a person wants to make ??? ( because building social skills (?) matters ? )

Ah yes highschool,.....a place where acquiring an education or providing an education, should take a back seat to the importance of some kids clownish racial issues and his willingness to deliberately antagonize others to impress the world ?

Why else would the public build high schools (?)...... but for the purpose of letting them be taken over by some kid with racist issues, who wants to use them as a platform for displaying symbolic racial hate flags, to antagonize others ?

Well, maybe he has a future in advertising ?! Or how about a future in "the politics of pointlessness" and "divisive diversions", as seen in this paper, that come daily from our legislature and executive branch in Topeka ?

Let's glorify way out of place behavior by wrapping it in "freedom of hate speech" and the "freedom to display threatening symbolis to others, in public" ! ? Really ?

The stars and bars was never the official confederate flag,....but was actually the "BATTLE FLAG" of the Army of Northern Virginia, under the control of a traitor to his own country, who graduated our West Point Military Academy, by the name of Robert E. Lee ( swearing an oath to the country that educated him;....and then obviously doing as he pleased later on ) .

The "actual confederate flag" of the confederacy, was hard to see and distinguish from a distance durring a battle, making it hard for confederate general officers to command,.....because the true confederate flag, was of a POOR MILITARY DESIGN, to begin with ( are we surprised ? ) .

So, for visual clarity at a distance on the battle field, the true flag of the confederacy fell out of favor ( but was never change to the stars and bars ), and was replace with the stars and bars flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, so general officers of the confederacy could see it to better command;...not that the stars and bars change would have made it any harder for a union general officer, to figure out who is who on a battle field from afar .

Justin Hoffman 2 years, 2 months ago

All the "politically correct don't hurt my feelings I'm entitled do gooders" on here make me chuckle. Thank you!

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 2 months ago

David Reynolds "teaching moment" comment is right.

Flying a flag -- any flag -- is a form of speech. The best way to counter offensive speech is more speech.

Burying your head in the sand solves nothing.

Keep it up and some day you will have people denying slavery ever happened in the same way that some people (including the leader of Iran) deny that the holocaust ever happened.

Bob Summers 2 years, 2 months ago

Since people with the Liberal condition are alone with their cries of racism, they should pay heed to one of their pillars of the ideology.

Calvin Anders 2 years, 2 months ago

Bob, I'm going to guess that Morgan Freeman would not agree that the wearing or flying of a Confederate flag qualified as not talking about race. By your logic, if someone burned a cross on the lawn in front of a high school, and people reacted by expressing concern for the racist implications, you would say they were perpetuating the problem by making it about race. Well you know what, Bob, burning crosses and white hoods and the use of the N word as an insult and, yes, the Confederate flag, are about race.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.