A Virginia teen who left high school after being told to remove American flags from his pickup truck says he was just exercising his First Amendment rights.
Christopher Hartless, a student at Staunton River High School, was told by school officials that the American flags he had displayed on his truck were a distraction and was ordered to take them down. But, he refused.
“I don’t understand how it’s distracting if they have one on the flagpole that every other student can see,” Hartless reportedly said.
Hartless’s mother, Christina Kingery, told ABC13, “I told my son if this is what he’s believing in, then we are both going to stand behind him all the way.”
Christopher stood his ground, refusing to remove the flags. After a second warning, school officials revoked his parking pass. The student’s only other transportation option was to ride the bus, so the family decided that they would homeschool him until the school changes its policy about American flags being displayed on student vehicles.
“If they’re willing to change and let kids want to fly the American flag, then I’ll put him back in school,” Kingery said.
Christopher Hartless’s parents first shared news of the incident on social media Friday, August 18, along with photos of their son’s truck.
“So this is what my son went to staunton river high school with on Wednesday and they made a big ruckus over him and his friends leaving their American flags on their vehicles while in school so they were called to the office and told they have 3 choices take the flag down, leave school, or their parking pass would be revoked don’t make any sense at all so i decide to help him out a little bit with his right to present the flag help me understand this (sic),” Allen Kingery wrote.
Staunton River High School issued a press release stating that the student driver contract for the Bedford County Public Schools (BCPS) hasn’t changed in over a decade. It also notes that student drivers are prohibited from flying large flags or banners on their vehicles that could distract or obstruct a driver’s view while in the school parking lot.
“The underlying concern for this rule is student safety,” the statement read.
In an email to Fox News Digital, the school elaborated on the rules, saying that the student rulebook prohibits “attire that has language or images that are offensive, profane, vulgar, discriminatory, or racially/culturally divisive. This would include confederate flags, swastikas, KKK references, or any other images that might reasonably be considered hurtful or intimidating to others.” The rules do not state that clothing with American Flag logos or prints are prohibited.
“This attire is allowed. Regarding flags on cars, the student parking contract, which has been used by all 3 of our high schools for many years, states, ‘Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature,’” the email read.
Hear Christopher Hartless and Christina Kingery talk about the controversy in the interview below.