This is one of those stories that turns into a cause celebre and riles up lots of folks. But at the heart of the issue — five California high school students were kicked off their campus Wednesday for wearing t-shirts and bandannas emblazoned with American flags on Cinco de Mayo — is simple courtesy toward others.
Yes, the students at a San Jose high school are entitled to wear patriotic garb, but did they only do so on this specific day to poke at their Mexican-American classmates? And was that intent clear to the school officials?
I would like to know if the boys wore the t-shirts and bandannas any other day of the school year.
Sorry, if my kids donned the country’s colors only as a dig at their foreign-born classmates, it would not be an action that I would applaud or defend.
I know that this is going to set off folks who believe that these kids are true patriots defending American values and culture, but there is a difference between patriotism as principle and patriotism as a rebuke or put-down of others.
According to the AJC:
One of the boys, Daniel Galli, told the station that he and four friends were sitting at a table eating brunch when a vice principal told two of them to remove American flag bandannas from around their heads, and the other three to turn their American flag t-shirts inside out. They refused to do so and were sent to the office.
“They said we could wear it on any other day, but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today,” Galli told KNTV. The school has a large number of Mexican-American students, the NBC affiliate reported.
According to another of the boys, school administrators told them that if they went back to class wearing the shirts, they would be suspended for defiance. The boys went home to avoid suspension.
“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Julie Fagerstrom, one of the boys’ mother, said. “All they were doing was displaying their patriotic nature. They’re expressing their individuality.”
The TV station reported Thursday that the five boys and their parents met with officials from the Morgan Hill Unified School District Wednesday night, and the district officials released a statement saying they do not agree with the way school administrators handled the incident.
The boys were told they could return to school on Thursday, wearing the red, white and blue.