Recently, a Colorado Springs school (The Vanguard School, Harrison SD2) kicked a boy out of class for displaying material they found offensive on his backpack. That material was the iconic Gadsden flag displaying the phrase ‘Don’t Tread on Me.’
In a now viral video, it appears the mother of the boy who was removed from class filmed (apparently secretly) an official from the school who stated that the boy was removed from class due to the flag patch (the specificity of this is a key fact of the video) and that the problem with the flag was its origins rooted in slavery.
But here’s the rub: the Gadsden flag has no roots in slavery. The flag was a symbol of the American revolution and in fact, it was a favorite of Ben Franklin who used it to create the original 13 colony flag. Franklin was famously a vocal abolitionist.
Even liberal Colorado Governor Jared Polis knows the flag is not racist and put the school right in their place.
Instead of taking the L, admitting their teaching staff does not know basic American history, and reinstating the boy quietly, the school had the audacity to double down. In emails which have also gone viral, school administrators claimed that the Gadsden flag actually IS racist and they were right all along. The school cited an EEOC case and, even though they’re an academic institution charged with educating children, they chose to cite this case through a secondary source media article instead of actually reading the primary source re: the EEOC decision itself. If they’d had bothered to seek out the primary source as any Academic institution worth half a cent requires of student research, they’d have read that the EEOC expressly noted that they did not find the Gadsden flag to be a racist symbol or a symbol rooted in racism but instead found only that the complaint was enough to require the impacted agency (the Postal Service) to investigate the claim. The agency had to make this distinction because so many outlets, like the one the school cited as their basis for the idiotic rule, were making completely false claims. No one knows how the employee complaint was resolved within the US Postal Service. All we know is that USPS had to check and make sure that the flag (on a hat in this case) was not being used in a racist context.
The board of directors reinstated the boy after overwhelming public pressure and likely for no other reason but also put out a statement which completely changed their story saying that actually no the problem was never the Gadsden flag it was other patches that displayed weapons. An interesting pivot considering all the primary source evidence which is to the very firm contrary. If it was never about the Gadsden flag, why email the parent defending the choice? Why have an entire meeting referencing the one patch and saying it was rooted in slavery? Not only are these “educators” actually woefully undereducated in basic local history but they’re apparently liars.