A Missouri High School became a battleground, earlier this month, where flags became proxies for the students’ feelings: after LGBT rainbow flags were passed around, students countered by flying the “rebel flag.”
At the West Plains High School in West Plains, Missouri, students began handing out LGBT rainbow flags to show support for the LGBT community.
However, the act was not necessarily well-received.
After the LGBT rainbow flags were handed out in the school’s cafeteria, some students replied by draping a large Confederate flag in the lunch room.
Following the incident, the school district won’t reveal details of its investigation but has emphasized that the safety and education of students is the ‘utmost concern’, according to KY3.
One of the students behind the distribution of LGBT rainbow flags, a sophomore, Rose Schilmoeller, who passed around nearly 60 Pride flags attested that the purpose of handing out the flags was not to make an overt political statement.
She said that the flags were “a good way to show people that they’re not alone,” and that “people would put them like sticking out of backpacks or just carry them around.”
A junior, Abigail Lipford, recalled: “On Monday, I saw a girl walking down the hallway and she had like a gay pride flag in her hair–in her ponytail.
“I noticed two boys get up and they have the Confederate Flag and they’re like showing it to the lunchroom in the senior cafe.”
The High School issued a statement to parents following the incident:
The West Plains School District has been made aware of recent displaying of flags on the high school campus during school hours. While we are unable to comment specifically on an ongoing investigation, all board policies will be followed. The West Plains School District is committed to addressing the concerns being raised by our students, parents, and community. The safety and education of our students is our utmost concern. We will continue to be proactive in our efforts to keep students safe, while providing them with the highest-quality education.
A sophomore, Taylor Pool, said: “It’s like they were mocking us, but not only was it that they were mocking us, they also brought in a completely different subject because people were offended by the type of flag they had.
“It wasn’t just LGBT kids, there were also straight kids, Christian kids, standing up for us because they also didn’t believe in all the hate other people were giving us.”
One student’s social media post after the incident read: “If they can fly their queer flags, others can fly their rebel flags 😂 Butt hurt?” according to People.
The statement continued:
“Rather than deal with this [as] a disciplinary matter, we chose to deal with it as a learning experience. No disciplinary actions were taken. Our hope is to teach our students to respect each other and to respect different viewpoints on a variety of societal issues.”
Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley recently defended her decision to remove the flag from the State Capitol.