A high school principal in Bloomington, Ind., is banning the Confederate flag after students wore it draped around their shoulders in class Wednesday.
The few students who wore the flag at Bloomington High School North may have been exercising their rights but Principal Jeffry M. Henderson said the ensuing uproar was bad for learning.
"This issue has evolved into one that has created a substantial disruption to the educational environment," Henderson said in an email to parents. "As a result, students may no longer wear or display images of the Confederate flag on their clothing or any other personal item while at school or a school-sponsored event or function."
Sarah Hannon, 16, was among the offended students who complained to administrators.
"I'm definitely really proud that our school district took a big step towards combating institutionally accepted discrimination," the junior told IndyStar via Facebook. "It's a good feeling knowing that we did something meaningful that I feel was bigger than just our school."
Sarah said she believes the students wore the flag as a response to an event in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community at the school last week. She and other students spoke to counselors and met with Monroe County Community Schools officials Wednesday.
Many felt intimidated by the flag-wearers, she said.
Emily Gardner, a 17-year-old senior, said banning the Confederate flag was the right decision.
"I know many people were upset about this and didn't take action," Emily said via Facebook. "It's really important for young people to stand up for what they believe is right."
Henderson, the principal, said teachers encourage tolerance for opposing views, but in this case the actions went too far.
"Balancing the first amendment rights of all individuals in a democracy can be a challenging task," Henderson said in the email. "Doing that with teenagers, can prove to be even more challenging."
This isn't the first time the Confederate flag caused a controversy among Indiana teenagers. Earlier this month, pictures taken from Snapchat and circulated through other social media showed the Confederate flag at a party. One image contained the caption, "Confederate lives matter," seemingly mocking the Black Lives Matter movement.
The images led 17-year-old Nicodemus Monts to organize a protest outside a North Central High School football game.