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US flag displayed on ground for high school First Amendment forum. Outrage quickly followed.
Outrage ensued after an American flag was displayed on the ground this week as part of a First Amendment forum at an Illinois high school. (Image source: Jay Zito, used by permission)

US flag displayed on ground for high school First Amendment forum. Outrage quickly followed.

Why was an American flag on the ground at a high school?

  • A U.S. flag was displayed on the floor at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois, this week as part of a staff-created First Amendment forum, the Chicago Tribune reported.
  • The purpose of the sophomore forum was "to explore the complexities of the constitutionally protected right of free speech by examining real cases," principal Erin DeLuga wrote to parents Tuesday on Facebook.
  • The flag on the ground was a recreation of artist Dread Scott's "What is the proper way to display a U.S. Flag?"

  • Scott's display was seen at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1989, the Tribune said, adding that then-President George H.W. Bush called it "disgraceful."
  • DeLuga emphasized the high school's recreation was "in no way meant to disrespect the flag, the military, or the government; rather, it was used for students to reconcile their feelings about current issues and whether their First Amendment rights are protected."
  • A Wednesday statement from the school said the display "was created to ensure the flag was not stepped on or defaced in any way."
  • The principal added that at 3 p.m. Tuesday, two students "folded the flag and turn it over to a representative from the Elmhurst American Legion to ensure that it would be retired respectfully in accordance with proper flag etiquette."
  • "We ask our students to think critically about issues relevant to them and our society," the school statement added. "At the same time, we understand that this demonstration caused some angst in the larger community and for that, we deeply apologize."
  • The school promised that it "will make changes to this forum in the future to ensure we do not disrespect our flag."

What does the Flag Code say about the flag touching the ground?

  • The flag "should not touch anything beneath it, including the ground," the American Legion notes, citing the Flag Code. In addition, one is "not required to destroy the flag when this happens. As long as the flag remains suitable for display, even if washing or dry-cleaning is required, you may continue to display the flag as a symbol of our great country," the American Legion added.

How did observers react?

  • Jay Zito — who posted an image on Facebook of the flag on the ground — called the display "disgusting."

  • Commenter Scott Cook said his son tried to pick up the flag but was prevented by a teacher who "kept putting his arm between him and the flag."
  • Maureen Hrabak Draganowski commented that she was "completely and totally horrified. My tax dollars are going toward this?"
  • "Well, since hate speech is protected under the First Amendment, what is next for you?" KJ Rudnick asked. "Would you deface the Quran in the courtyard? How about have them paint some swastikas and discuss how they feel? Maybe burn a cross? You took the least risky and most cowardly path."
  • Not everyone disagreed with the display, however. Kate Guinan wrote: "Bravo York, well done. There are still people in this community that believe young people develop values by looking at and talking about issues that may be out of their frame of reference. Reading the letter that was sent out, I believe it was handled with the utmost respect."
  • Lisa Sullivan added, "As a parent of District 205 students, I fully support the lesson that encouraged our kids to think critically. (I am disappointed, however, that the administration caved to a handful of parents and tons of non-Elmhurst residents having temper tantrums.)"

(H/T: Todd Starnes)

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Dave Urbanski

Dave Urbanski

Sr. Editor, News

Dave Urbanski is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@DaveVUrbanski →