Wow! South Carolina High School Bans US Flag at Football Games — It’s Offensive

The Greenville County School District and principals of Travelers Rest and Berea high school are responding to claims students weren’t allowed to carry American flags into a football game between the two schools.

Several people have reached out to WYFF News 4 and posted about the incident on social media, claiming the principal would not allow them to carry U.S. flags into Friday night’s football game because it might offend Berea High School’s Hispanic community.

On Saturday afternoon, Principal Lou Lavely told WYFF News 4, “the flag has been used in the past to taunt Berea students and community that has led to confrontation. Student safety (and in the case of a football game, safety of all attending) is our primary concern. It is the responsibility of the school to provide the safest environment possible and no object, sign, chants by students, etc. would be permitted if they compromise safety.”

When responding to WYFF News 4′s questions Lavely added, “Using the American flag as a method to taunt or someway degrade another school is disrespectful to the American flag in itself.”

Also on Saturday, Berea High School Principal Mike Noel issued a statement saying,  “I am in full support of Mr. Lavely’s actions at the football game on Friday night. He was protecting the greatest symbol of our nation, the American flag. His decision was based on the premise that the American flag should not be used in a disrespectful or unsportsmanlike like manner. He made the right decision. ”

The Greenville County School District also responded saying:

     “Greenville County Schools encourages and supports the appropriate display of the United States Flag in accord with the United States Flag Code. We do not condone the use of the Flag to shield unsportsmanlike or inappropriate conduct.

“To allow such use is disrespectful to the Flag, the principles which it represents and the sacrifices of those who have and are serving to defend it.

“There is no ban at the school or district level on the appropriate display of the United States Flag but using it in a manner that is disrespectful to it or the principles it represents will be addressed if it occurs.”

Here is the entire statement Lavely released:

     “Some events at last evening’s football game have resulted in concerns being raised in our community. I am writing to assure that any decisions made regarding American flags being permitted into the game were made in the best interests of all attending the game and in the spirit of patriotism and respect for our flag.

“Any decision to not allow the American flag to be used in an improper “taunting,”  unsportsmanlike manner is first and foremost in the interests of promoting the safety and well-being of all in attendance at school events. This decision would be made any time that the American flag, or any other symbol, sign, cheer, or action on the part of our fans would potentially compromise the safety of all in attendance at a school event.

“Just as importantly, using the American flag to display disrespect and unsportsmanlike behavior, is in itself improper and disrespectful to our flag. Those in attendance at TRHS events from football and basketball to tennis and baseball know that I, along with our student body and community, have the utmost respect for our flag and strive to display the highest levels of patriotism. The American flag is properly displayed at our sporting stadiums and our announcers always ask the fans to stand and join in the singing of our national anthem before contests, which was most recently witnessed at last evening’s football game.

“Additionally, I have encouraged our student body to always show and respect our country, flag, and servicemen and women. Our student council honors the veterans on our faculty every year with large banners thanking them for their service and for the last two years our Spirit Week charity has been the Honor Flights – Greenville that provides free trips to veterans to visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C. are just two examples of the commitment of our school to the proper displays of patriotism.

“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.”

Here is the entire statement from Noel:

“I am in full support of Mr. Lavely’s actions at the football game on Friday night. He was protecting the greatest symbol of our nation, the American Flag. His decision was based on the premise that the American flag should not be used in a disrespectful or unsportsmanlike like manner. He made the right decision. 

“Mr. Lavely should be celebrated for his dedication to supporting our veterans and encouraging student to love and respect our great nation. 

“We educate our students on how to display good sportsmanship and to show respect to our opponents. Both teams played hard and should be celebrated for their efforts on the field.  Both schools and communities need to embrace the spirit of competition in a positive manner, and show respect for each other’s achievements.”

Dr. Michael Savage

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