Harsh and Hurtful or History and Heritage

By Kayla Ratliff, junior

In addition to a few of the following Edgewood High School dress code rules: no holes above the knee, no athletic shorts, and shirts must cover a student’s rear when wearing leggings, the Confederate battle flag has been a prevalent topic.

Although Confederate battle flag controversies have only recently become common amongst the student body, the use or portrayal of it is prohibited on school grounds and has been for around 20 years, according to vice principal Mr. Bland. The rule falls under the “Clothes that portray weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gangs, sexual content, racial, sexist, or prejudicial symbols, put downs, or any other that may promote an environment of hostility“ guideline in Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation’s handbook. Disputes have been few over the flag requiring school administrators to step in as of the beginning of the 2015 school year, but the strong opinions of the students and faculty of Edgewood remain present.

“I don’t really think it’s so much as against the school; it’s a little more against authority, or against the national trends that are going on, if you will. The school is always seen as that governmental agency that you rebel against, as teenagers. I don’t think it’s so much against us, it’s just more that they’re trying to make their statement,” Mr. Bland said.

An eruption of public controversy began on June 17, 2015, when a mass shooting occurred at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The man responsible, Dylann Roof, had posted pictures of himself and the Confederate battle flag onto the Internet. After debate over whether or not the flag should be flown on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse, it was taken down on July 10th and placed into a museum.

While some believe that the flag contributes or represents racism, others believe it is solely a military flag that represents Southern heritage.

“They were fighting for state rights; they were fighting for a cause. We can almost go too far when our emotions begin to, you know, take over,” Mr. Chance said.

When junior Michael Spohn was told that he had to take the Confederate battle flag off of the back of his truck or be suspended from school, Spohn agreed to remove it, but his opinions still differed. Owning multiple t-shirts and a belt buckle showing the flag, Spohn said that he felt that it was degrading towards his heritage.

“I support it, as in I support it if you’re using it as Southern heritage, not if you’re using it as racism,” Spohn said.

While students at Edgewood are encouraged to “become free thinkers,” Mr. Bland said, he said that education should be able to continue without disruptions and that students should be able to come to school without feeling intimidated or embarrassed.

“Edgewood has a great student culture; it’s very accepting. We want to keep that in place, and we don’t want a group being singled out or uncomfortable just being in our hallways.”


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