On Thursday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California high school’s decision to outlaw American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.
Officials at Live Oak High School banned American flags on May 5, 2010 because the year before there had been altercations between white students and Mexican students. There were American flags and chants of “USA.” According to reports, there were also Mexican flags and kids running around saying, “Fuck them white boys. Let’s fuck them up.”
The high school, located 20 miles south of San Jose, is has had numerous gang problems. Nevertheless, the school seems to have organized an impressive Cinco de Mayo celebration.
School allowed to ban US flag shirts for safety, court says
Officials at a Northern California high school acted appropriately when they ordered students wearing American flag T-shirts to turn the garments inside out during the Mexican heritage celebration Cinco de Mayo, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the officials’ concerns of racial violence outweighed students’ freedom of expression rights. Administrators feared the American-flag shirts would enflame the passions of Latino students celebrating the Mexican holiday. Live Oak High School, in the San Jose suburb of Morgan Hill, had a history of problems between white and Latino students on that day.
The unanimous three-judge panel said past problems gave school officials sufficient and justifiable reasons for their actions. The court said schools have wide latitude in curbing certain civil rights to ensure campus safety.
“Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel. The past events “made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real,” she wrote.
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