By Cynthia Cisneros
(10/02/06 – KTRK/ALVIN, TX) – The confederate flag is at the center of a growing controversy in Alvin. Two students at Harby Middle School are fighting for their right to wear the flag. They say it’s about remembering the past and paying tribute to their school’s namesake. But the district says the students broke the rules.
It’s a belt buckle Marshall Alexander has worn before. He likes to wear it because his mother gave it to him. He also has another reason.
"It honors my fallen veterans," he said.
"How so?" we asked.
"The Civil War was about having our own country at that time, so we wanted to honor them because they fought for their rights 1861 through 1865," responded Alexander.
Alexander wore the belt buckle the first week of school at Harby. School officials asked Alexander to remove the buckle. He did.
At the same school, Robert Kaufman found himself in a similar situation when he displayed a confederate flag sticker on his notebook.
"Do you feel that maybe your right to display it is hurting the feelings of others?" we asked.
"Well, no, because we haven’t offended anyone," said Kaufman. "If someone went up to me and said, ‘Hey, you offended me,’ I’d take it out."
Rules are rules, say Alvin school district officials. Teachers have the authority to determine inappropriate clothing or accessories.
"Any accessory or apparel that promotes racial intolerance or cultural divisiveness is not allowed," said Shirley Brothers with Alvin ISD.
Alexander’s mother disagrees and has already filed a complaint with the school district. She and others are now circulating a petition to allow confederate symbols on campus.
"Our First Amendment right is being infringed upon," she said. "That belt buckle did not disrupt the class or anything else."
(Copyright © 2006, KTRK-TV)