A school in Tennessee is refusing to ban the Confederate battle flag from being displayed on campus, even though a black student has expressed discomfort at the sight. The freshman from Rutherford County, Tennessee, came home from school and told his mother that students were displaying the flag from their cars and wearing T-shirts with the symbol.
At least one of the flags flying from vehicles in the school parking lot had the words "Heritage, Not Hate" written on it when local ABC affiliate WKRN-TV drove by recently. The news comes nearly two months after a racially motivated church shooting in South Carolina sparked national debate on the propriety of the flag on public property.
"I felt sad and hurt when I saw [the flags]" flying from trucks at the school, the freshman's mother told the ABC affiliate. "I don't think it is the appropriate place for my child to be subjected to this." In the report, the names of the mother and student remained anonymous.
When she contacted the school district, she was told by the schools spokesperson that, "as a school district, we can't prohibit such items unless it is causing a disturbance at the school." Other schools in the county do ban the flag from dress codes.
The church shooting, which claimed the lives of nine black churchgoers, revealed that the Confederate battle flag was still flying on the South Carolina state grounds. The day after the shooting, with the American flag at half-staff, the Confederate flag stood stubbornly at full-staff. The ensuing outrage led the Republican governor, Nikki Haley, to reverse course on a previous position she held and demand that the state legislature vote to take the symbol down.
"On matters of race, South Carolina has a tough history. We all know that. Many of us have seen it in our own lives, in the lives of our parents and our grandparents. We don’t need reminders," she said at the time.
States across the South have since wrestled with the issue. Several high-profile retail companies, including eBay, Amazon and Walmart have ceased selling merchandise that displays the flag.