Confederate Clothing in School
Ms. Sue Wright,
I am a local businessman and concerned citizen who is disheartened about the school’s response to students wearing Confederate related clothing. I firmly believe this is a violation of their First Amendment rights. I am sympathetic to your role as an educator and realize that maintaining good order and discipline is important if you are going to successfully educate the students. However, I believe that the action of the school, and not the students, is the sole source of the disruption in the case of the Confederate T-shirts. Without incident, students have been wearing Confederate related clothing for decades to show their Southern pride and their right of self-determination.
My first reaction to the articles was that of anger and disbelief. After all, this is the Shenandoah Valley, where so many local Confederates fought and died fighting for their homeland, their freedom, and their independence. It is also somewhat ironic to me that several local high schools are named for Confederate heroes (Robert E. Lee HS, Turner Ashby HS, Stonewall Jackson HS). I think it is imperative that as educators in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, you encourage students to celebrate their heritage. I think it is also imperative that other students are taught in the classroom and by the actions of administrators to be sensitive to those who wish to express their Southern Heritage and pride by wearing Confederate related clothing. It is easy in my opinion to get caught up in a politically correct and hyper-sensitive culture these days, and I urge the school not to fall into this trap.
I realize many people see the Confederate Flag and the Civil War differently. I think in the case of this issue, like so many, education and dialogue would be beneficial and would help to diffuse the situation (not just inside the school but outside as well). I am a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans – an organization that serves as a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization dedicated to ensuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved. Although, I am not officially speaking for the SCV, I know that there are many SCV members and groups that would love to help the school start a dialogue. Indeed, the SCV makes many history-related presentations to schools around the country all the time. I urge you to release your ban on Confederate-related clothing and give me the opportunity to help set up a history related exhibit or presentation aimed at educating and defusing any negative feelings concerning this issue.