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Principal Will Permit U.S. Flags at HS Football Games, Reverses Himself

“Using the American flag to display disrespect and unsportsmanlike behavior, is in itself improper and disrespectful to our flag.”

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The principal of a South Carolina high school has reversed his controversial decision to bar the American flag from football games, according to a spokesperson for Greenville County Schools.

According to WSPA-TV, social media posts from students at Travelers Rest High School’s game against Berea High School on Friday indicated they were not permitted to bring American flags into the venue.

“I'm sick of this political correctness,” one student wrote.

The school's decision to bar the flag sparked national headlines.

Travelers Rest High School principal Lou Lavely initially defended his decision to prohibit American flags from the venue as respectful of the flag. Lavely said in a statement provided to WSPA that the flag had been used to “taunt” students in “an unsportsmanlike manner,” which constitutes disrespect of the flag:

I take my responsibility as an educator to teach our students the proper respect and values associated with our country, which entails supporting our students in the proper display of the flag as well as redirecting our students when they may make a mistake in displaying our flag improperly, very seriously. To be perfectly clear, I am 100% in support of the patriotism that our school and community display so well and so often, of our flag, and of our country. The American flag, or any other symbol of our great nation, is welcome to be displayed and honored at our school events as long as it displayed properly and it is not used in any form of parallel taunting or disrespect.

A spokesperson for Greenville County Schools said in a statement provided to TheBlaze: “Mr. Lavely based this decision on past incidents in which TR students used the U.S. Flag, in conjunction with verbal taunts, to target Hispanic members of the Berea community in a manner that was both unsportsmanlike and also a misuse of our Flag.”

“Though social media reported that Mr. Lavely restricted the flag because it might offend members of the Berea community, Mr. Lavely vehemently denies believing or stating that the Flag might be offensive to that community,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson for the school district said that “after meeting with Travelers Rest student and faculty leadership, and with the benefit of time to reflect, Mr. Lavely has reached a different decision.”

“He based this decision on current students’ request that he judge them on their own merits and not based on the actions of past students," the spokesperson said. “As a result, effective immediately, students are allowed to bring the American Flag to any and all Travelers Rest High School events. Instead of restricting possession of the flag, the TRHS administration will, if needed, address the misuse of the Flag, or any other inappropriate behavior, on an individual basis.”

Superintendent Burke Royster said in a statement, “I fully support Mr. Lavely’s thoughtful reconsideration, and his willingness to respond to advice and input from his community.”

“I am appreciative of the Travelers Rest High School community for sharing its concerns and opinions on this matter in a respectful, civil manner,” Royster said. “I also appreciate and applaud their desire to promote patriotism and service as a part of the culture of their school and am in agreement that students’ desire to carry and display the American flag should be encouraged and supported throughout the District.”

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