2016-12-10 / World

Student has right to wear Confederate clothing

PLUM (AP) — A high school student has a right to wear a sweatshirt depicting a Confederate flag even though it upsets a black student and her father, the school superintendent said Friday.

Courts have determined school officials can’t prevent the student from wearing the sweatshirt unless it’s disruptive, Plum Borough School District Superintendent Timothy Glasspool told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“We cannot restrict students’ speech absent of something that would disrupt the school day,” Glasspool said, citing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

In that legal case, students wanted to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, and the court ruled that “Students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the school house gates.”

The father of the 11thgrader offended by the sweatshirt, Robert Williams, said Confederate flags “imply things that aren’t very nice” and represent slavery and bondage. He said he thought the issue had been resolved after school officials asked the student not to wear the sweatshirt but his daughter told him the boy wore it again Thursday.

“My daughter is afraid to be in class with this student. It’s disruptive to her learning environment,” Williams said. “As a black man, it is abhorrent that this is being allowed in school.”

Glasspool confirmed the student was asked to not wear the sweatshirt but refused, in part, because his father believes he has a right to wear it.

“It’s turned into a situation where one student’s rights clashes with another’s,” Glasspool said, noting this is the first dispute over the school’s dress code in his six years on the job.

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