(CN) – High-school officials in Missouri were justified in banning students from wearing clothing depicting the Confederate flag based on the “evident racial tension” at the school, the 8th Circuit ruled.
The superintendent of Farmington High School banned all students from wearing clothing with the Confederate flag, citing three racially charged incidents that occurred the previous year.
In the first incident, a white student urinated on a black student while allegedly saying, “That is what black people deserve.” On another occasion, white students jumped a black student at his home and shouted racial epithets at him. In the third incident, a skirmish broke out during a basketball tournament after two Farmington High players allegedly used racial slurs against black players on an opposing team.
The school enforced the ban on three students: one for wearing a baseball hat with the banned flag; and two for sporting T-shirts that said “The South was right, Our school is wrong,” “Our school supports freedom of speech for all (except Southerners)” and “Once a rebel, always and forever a rebel.”
The students and their parents sued the school and its administrators, claiming the ban violated their free-speech rights.
But the lower court said school officials had reason to believe the Confederate symbols and sayings would stir a “substantial and material disruption.”
The federal appeals court in St. Louis agreed.
“Farmington school officials, based on evident racial tension, could reasonably ban the flag to prevent anticipated future disruptions.”