Mo. school bans Confederate shirt honoring dead student

A controversy is brewing in Nixa, Mo., after the city’s high school banned tribute T-shirts to a recently deceased student because the clothing featured a Confederate flag.



Colby Snider, 18, was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning last year, KSPR reported. To honor him, his friends and family designed a T-shirt listing Snider’s favorite activities, traits and sayings. They also emblazoned the garment with a Confederate flag and the words "heritage not hate."

Those close to Snider, including his mother and brother, planned to wear the shirt on the anniversary of his death, but were told by school officials that no Confederate flags were allowed on school grounds because of a particularly odious history of racial harassment in Nixa, the Riverfront Times reported.

"The policy was developed after the Confederate battle flag was used in various racial incidents," Zac Rantz, communications director for Nixa Public Schools, told the Times. "This policy first stemmed from events that occurred in the mid-1990s and has been reaffirmed by boards since that time because the Confederate battle flag has continued to be used in racial threats against students."

According to Rantz, agitators have driven around Nixa in the recent past with Confederate flags harassing minorities, hung nooses from their rearview mirrors, dangled an effigy over a bridge, defaced lockers at the high school and posted signs over water fountains.

"Ultimately, many families who were being harassed and threatened chose to leave Nixa," he said in the statement.

Because the incidents have continued up until the present school year, Rantz said school officials have decided to reaffirm the city’s ban on the "racially inflammatory" symbol.

"When the symbol is used in a way that threatens students and it results in a material and substantive disruption to the educational environment where students are afraid to come to school, then it is not allowed," he said in his statement.

The Snider family and those close to the deceased student disagree with the city’s decision to ban the tribute.

"The Rebel flag doesn’t cause hate. People cause hate," Jodie Snider, Colby’s mother, told the Times. "To all of us, it’s about being from the South. … This is about being Southern, living the Southern way. It’s not about whether you’re black or white."

Snider told the paper that she didn’t believe the school had a legitimate reason to ban the shirt or the flag. She mentioned nonprohibited shirts that say "It’s okay to be gay" and asked why she was forced to be tolerant of others’ views when they weren’t compelled to be tolerant of hers.

Colby’s 15-year-old brother, Colin, was recently sent home from school for wearing the shirt, according to Jodie.

"He should be able to honor his brother," Snider told the Times.

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