Image via WSET ABC 13 / YoUTube (screenshot)
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A Virginia high school student was pulled out of school by his parents over a controversy involving a school policy that said he couldn't fly American flags from the back of his pickup truck.
Bedford County, Virginia, student Christopher Hartless had his parking pass revoked from Staunton River High School after he refused to remove large American flags from the back of his truck.
WSET 13 reported that Hartless said he is simply exercising his First Amendment right to fly the flags and was supported by his stepmother, Christina Kingery, who decided that the family would homeschool the teen unless he was allowed to display the flags.
"My family fought for America, and I feel like I should be able to represent the flag that they fought for," Hartless said.
The school sent out a weekend reminder, seemingly due in part to the recent controversy, which stated that the "student parking contract, which has been used by all 3 of our high schools for many years, states, 'Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature.'"
Administrators also pointed out that parents and students agree to the policy upon signing up for a school parking pass.
Hartless still disagreed and said that he didn't understand how the flags can be a distraction if the school also has an American flag on the flagpole "that every other student can see."
Despite the reminder, Hartless arrived at school on a Monday with his flags still up and was told to take them down again. He then got his parking pass revoked, which led to the decision that the family would homeschool him.
Kingery, who also spoke to reporters, said that if this is what the teenager believes in, both she and the young man's father "are both going to stand behind him all the way to the end of it."
"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," Kingery said after Hartless corrected her.
"But if they don't, then I'm going to continue to let him fly his flags," she added.
Bedford County school system responded to ABC 13 and reiterated the policy before stating that the "underlying concern is student safety and whether or not a banner or flag is large enough to create a distraction for other drivers. ... 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. That stated, we do not comment on individual student disciplinary matters," administrators added.
It was also noted that school policy allows American flag-related clothing to be worn.
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