Gadsden Flag Vindicated: Colorado School Reverses Course After Kicking Student Out for Patriotic Backpack
A Colorado Springs school has reversed course after booting a 12-year-old boy off campus for refusing to remove a patch on his backpack depicting the patriotic “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag.
According to video footage, administrators at the Vanguard Secondary School had told a seventh grader named Jaiden that he could not step on campus while wearing the backpack with the patriotic patch. Staff at the charter school, part of Harrison School District 2, reportedly argued that the banner featuring a rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me” is associated with “slavery” and the “slave trade.”
Yet the Vanguard School Board of Directors sent a message to the community Wednesday reversing course.
“The Vanguard School Board of Directors called an emergency meeting,” reads the message from the board, which was posted online by Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute. “From Vanguard’s founding, we have proudly supported our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the ordered liberty that all Americans have enjoyed for almost 250 years.”
“The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history,” the message adds. “This incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to a classical education in support of these American principles.”
“At this time, the Vanguard School Board and the District have informed the student’s family that he may attend school with the Gadsden flag patch visible on his backpack.”
Jeff Yocum, the school’s director of operations, had doubled down on the flag ban in an email exchange Monday with Jaiden’s parents. Yocum claimed that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had determined that the Gadsden flag is an “unacceptable symbol.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, however, later admitted that the Gadsden flag “originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context.”
Vanguard’s Yokum also said the Gadsden flag was tied to “the Confederate flag and other white-supremacy groups, including ‘Patriot’ groups,” citing a left-wing blog post from a graphic design artist.
Finally, Yokum said that no symbol or flag worn at school may “refer to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons.”
Contrary to Yokum’s claims and the previous claims from staff, the Gadsden flag is not associated with the slave trade or white supremacy.
Benjamin Franklin, an outspoken abolitionist, first used the rattlesnake as a symbol for colonial unity during the French and Indian War in 1754. Christopher Gadsden, a South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress and a brigadier general in the Continental Army, designed the flag by uniting the rattlesnake with the motto “Don’t Tread on Me” in the lead-up to the American Revolution. He sent it to Esek Hopkins, commodore of the emerging colonial Navy in December 1775, and to the South Carolina Continental Congress in February 1776.
Colorado’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, called the incident “a great teaching moment for a history lesson.”
“Obviously the Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and an iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans,” he wrote.