BEDFORD COUNTY, Va (WFXR) — Controversy is buzzing over flags at Staunton River High School in Bedford County. One family tells WFXR news that students are not allowed to have the American flag–or any flag — waving on the back of their cars– while on school grounds.
According to Allen Kingerly, whose son, Christopher, attended Staunton River High School. If they had flags waving on the back of their cars, they would face repercussions that could include losing their parking passes, or even more serious consequences.
Christopher Hartless, says he was first stopped about his flags on Wednesday, just two days after the first day of school. He says he told the school that it was his right to wave the American flag and that he would not be taking it down.
“If we want to represent our flag for our country then we should be able to. it’s not like it has any hate or profanity to it, and I just think it’s bull crap, myself,” said Hartless.
The 17-year-old says he waves the flag in honor of his loved ones who are United States veterans. He says he is just one of multiple students who were being told they were not allowed to have flags on their cars. Saying the school deems it a distraction– but he says he doesn’t understand how.
“I don’t understand how it’s a distraction if they have one displaying in the front of the school where everyone can see it,” said Hartless.
Kingery took to social media with what his son, and others, were experiencing.
Following the posts, Bedford County public schools sent a newsletter to Staunton River parents Sunday regarding the concerns– it states that they would like to “provide clarification about the American flag on student attire, safety provisions in our student parking contract, and the reciting of the pledge of allegiance.”
It goes on to say according to the student parking contract used by all three Bedford County public high schools, “large flags and banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature.”
However, Kingery says he believes this steps on his child’s first amendment rights.
“First you can’t fly the flag, next you can’t do this, next you can’t do that, sooner or later you’re not gonna have no rights at all, and then where are we gonna be?” said Kingery.
BCPS says in its newsletter that they “proudly fly the American flag throughout the school and recite the pledge of allegiance every morning.”
WFXR reached out to the school board as well as the Staunton River High School principal for an interview, but they were unavailable.
Christina Kingery says she and her husband will do everything they can to support Christopher in standing up for what he believes in
“For him to stand up at 17 years old, and say that he, it’s his right at 17 years old, and knows how it makes us feel and knows how it makes us feel, it makes us proud,” said Kingery.
There is a school board meeting scheduled for September 14th. Christopher’s family says they will be there and they are encouraging other members of the community to attend as well.