The debate on the Confederate flag, the First Amendment, and public schools

Some people see the confederate flag as a symbol of their concerns with the federal government and wanting more state power, but it is easy to argue that the confederate flag can also be used as a racist symbol. The confederate flag represents white power and a period of time when individuals did not believe that African American’s were equal to whites.  Should public schools have the right to ban the confederate flag on school property, or should the flag be protected under the first amendment? This is a growing debate throughout the US today. Some argue that the first amendment is our most important right. It protects freedom of religion, speech, the press, and the right to assemble and petition the government.  

Freedom of speech is the area of focus when talking about the confederate flag in public schools, because people state that they are exercising their right of free expression when waving the flag. Most schools argument for banning the confederate is that is causes a disruption in and out of class. An example involving a high school boy in Des Moines says that he was waving a confederate flag from his car and was immediately asked to either remove the flag, or move his car off of school grounds. They explained a similar instance took place the year before and it led to violence and school disruption. Not only did the flag affect people in school, it also affected people in the community. The school received a complaint from a community member regarding the flag. The student who had the flag on his car could argue that it is his first amendment right to be able to fly whatever flag he pleases, but there are limits to these rights. Since many find the confederate flag to be offensive and racist, public schools have the power to ban them. It can be argued that allowing the confederate flags in schools could be considered symbolic speech. Symbolic speech is a form of speech that expresses an idea or emotion without the use of words. Even though freedom of speech falls under the First Amendment, public schools do have the right to forbid the Confederate flag.  By waving the confederate flag, they could be symbolizing hate against a specific race, which is clearly offensive and should not take place in public schools.


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