Education /

12-Year-Old Kicked Out Of Colorado Classroom Over Gadsden Flag Patch

The Student Returned To School Tuesday Saying He Would 'Sit-In' To Protest The School's Decision

On Monday, a 12-year-old student at The Vanguard School in Colorado was kicked out of class for having a Gadsden flag patch on his backpack.

In a video shared to X, formerly Twitter, by children’s author Connor Boyack, the student is shown in what appears to be a school administrator’s office while wearing a backpack featuring the Gadsden flag, among other patches, including the Dogecoin dog meme.

The student’s mother asks the administrator if other students or the administration know the Gadsden flag’s origin. The administrator responds, claiming the flag originates in “slavery and slave trade.”

The mother asks what will happen if the patch remains on his backpack, to which the administrator expresses concern over the student missing classroom time, suggesting he could remove the contents from his backpack and return to class without the bag.

The school administrator and mother sparred briefly over the flag’s origin. The administrator said she understood the mother’s concern but was only there to “enforce the policy provided by the district.”

“I think it’s one-sided,” the mother said, noting the school allows other patches to be displayed on student’s backpacks, to which the student chimed in, confirming his mother’s claim.

The mother praised the student, noting he was previously on the honor roll and took his education seriously, adding he was taught to stick up for his beliefs.

“You’re going over the Revolution for seventh grade,” the mother said. “The founding fathers stood up for what they believed in, against unjust laws.”

“This is unjust.”

The video was followed by a thread from Boyack, who provided screenshots of email correspondence from Vanguard School operations director Jeff Yocum providing “rationale” for determining the Gadsden flag was an “unacceptable symbol.”

In the email, Yocum shared a link to a 2016 Washington Post article titled, “Wearing ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ insignia could be punishable racial harassment,” which cites the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Comission (EEOC) noting the Gadsden flag “originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context.”

“However, whatever the historic origins and meaning of the symbol, it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages,” reads the Washington Post article.

Yocum also provided a 2021 article from Oregon Live titled, “‘Don’t Tread On Me’ flag, widely flown by Capitol mob, has complex history” citing the Gadsden flag was associated with “hate groups.”

The Oregon Live article claims, “Some may now see the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hate–or even racism.”

The email also linked to a article discussing a 2016 decision by the Navy against wearing the Gadsden flag.

“We truly hope to have Jaiden back at school tomorrow to resume his normal school day, but that will require this patch to be removed from his backpack,” Yocum wrote in the email, providing contact information for Assistant Superintendent Dr. Michael Claudio.

The student reportedly requested to speak with a local news station, though he was declined an interview, according to Boyack.

The Tuttle Twins author shared a screenshot of the Vanguard School’s list of unacceptable items in which the Gadsden flag reportedly fell under unacceptable clothing and paraphernalia representing  “drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons.”

Boyack tagged Colorado Governor Jared Polis in a follow-up post, saying he would love to hear the governor’s response to the incident.

“Obviously the Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and a iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans,” Polis responded. “It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to symbolize the union of the 13 colonies.”

“It’s a great teaching moment for a history lesson!”

The student reportedly returned to school Tuesday morning with the Gadsden flag on his backpack, saying he would “sit-in” to protest the school’s decision against the patch if necessary.

According to Boyack, two law firms have offered assistance to the family. The mother and student may also be featured on Fox News’ Sean Hannity’s broadcast tonight.

Neither the Vanguard School nor the district have responded to the incident as of Tuesday.

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