CINCINNATI (CN) – A dress code in a Tennessee high school does not violate the free-speech rights of students by barring them from wearing clothing that depicts the Confederate flag, the 6th Circuit ruled.
A three-judge panel rejected the claims of students and parents in Blount County who asserted the right to express their southern heritage by donning apparel bearing the controversial flag.
The dress code for county schools prohibits students from wearing anything that could disrupt other students from learning, including clothing that promotes drugs or alcohol, sexually suggestive or vulgar apparel, and attire that depicts racial or ethnic slurs or gang affiliation.
Principal Steve Lafron informed the freshman class of 2005 that “they would not be allowed to have Rebel flags or symbols of (the) Rebel flag on their clothing, or anything else that was a disruption to the school.”
He testified that clothing bearing the racially divisive symbols had caused a disruption the previous year.
Judge Moore said Lafron and other school officials had valid reasons for the ban, given the school’s history of racial tension.
Moore said the dress code, “as applied to ban the Confederate flag, is constitutional because of the disruptive potential of the flag in a school where racial tension is high and serious racially motivated incidents, such as physical altercations or threats of violence, have occurred.”