Student And School Lock Horns Over Display Of American Flag

In a patriotic display of his beliefs, a student of Bedford County’s Staunton River High School in Virginia, found himself embroiled in a debate with his school after his choice to fly large American flags from the back of his pickup truck led to a clash between his First Amendment rights and the school’s concerns about safety.

With a heart full of respect for his family’s legacy of service to the nation, Christopher Hartless stood his ground, insisting, “My family fought for America, and I feel like I should be able to represent the flag that they fought for.” 

This sentiment was shared by his stepmother, Christina Kingery, who took an unflinching stand to support her stepson’s right to display the Stars and Stripes. 

The clash of ideals led to a decision by Hartless’ family to homeschool him. 

“If they’re willing to change and let kids want to fly the American flag, then I’ll put him back in Staunton River … possibly put him back in Staunton River. But if they don’t, then I’m going to continue to let him fly his flags,” Kingery said.

The controversy ignited after the school, which reportedly permits clothing with an American flag display, revoked Hartless’s parking pass due to his refusal to remove the flags from his vehicle. Administrators argued that large flags or banners on vehicles could be distracting to other drivers, citing a concern for student safety. 

Yet, the young patriot questioned this stance, pointing out that the school proudly flew an American flag on its flagpole that every student could see.

Speaking to ABC 13, the Bedford County school system echoed the safety concerns while reiterating that small American flags or flag-related stickers on cars were permissible. 

According to administrators, “Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature. The underlying concern is student safety and whether or not a banner or flag is large enough to create a distraction for other drivers. There is no mention of stickers in the contract. Students are certainly welcome to have small American flags or stickers of the American flag on their cars.”

“Prior to obtaining the required parking permit, both the student and parent must sign the contract to indicate that they have read and understood the rules, procedures, and expectations for the student driver and that any violation of these rules could result in loss of the privilege to drive and park at school,” the school system explained further.

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