Virginia Honor Student Suspended for Allegedly Using American Flag as Hand Towel
A gifted and talented student at a Virginia middle school has been suspended for allegedly using an American flag as a hand towel. But the boy says he merely touched the flag as he lost his balance on a stairway and his mother believes he is being targeted because he is black.
The unnamed 13-year-old is a student at Plaza Middle School in Virginia Beach. According to WAVY, he is enrolled in the Middle Years Program, an elite baccalaureate program for gifted students.
Eileen Cox, a spokesman for the school, told WAVY that “a teacher observed a student who recently returned from the restroom using the American flag as a hand towel.”
“The student indicated to the teacher that there were no paper towels in the restroom,” Cox added.
But Wayne Scriven, a lawyer for the student’s family, said the boy claimed to have wiped his hands on his pants after washing his hands.
Victoria Hinton, the boy’s mother, told WAVY that her son told him, “Mommy, I was coming up the stairs and I lost my balance and I touched the flag.”
Whichever account is accurate, school officials slapped the boy with in-school suspension due to his “inappropriate behavior.”
“I feel like it’s of the attitude, ‘we’re going to get you one way or the other,'” Hinton said, adding that her son “is the only African-American young man” in the gifted class.
“Why didn’t you just take him aside and first ask him, ‘Hey, is everything okay?’ and then proceed by saying, ‘well, you know, the American Flag is something we respect and we hold very high in our country, so you know, just keep that in mind?” she asked.
Hinton claims the incident has had “a negative impact” on her son’s education. She is not planning on suing the school for money, but maintains that all legal options are on the table. First and foremost, she wants her son’s record cleared.
School officials told WAVY that the boy had been “disciplined in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct.”
Moral Low Ground believes that regardless of whether the student wiped his hands on the flag or not, he should not have been punished if his actions didn’t interfere with classroom instruction. As the late, great George Carlin said, “symbols are for the symbol-minded,” and although the flag may be a respected symbol of our nation, it is perfectly legal to wear, burn or wipe your ass (or hands) with one if you so desire. The flag is a symbol of our freedom, not the other way around. We call upon Plaza Middle School officials to apologize to the punished student and clear his record as soon as possible.