Students Suspended Over T-Shirts - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/19/03

Students Suspended Over T-Shirts

One of the rights for which our troops train and fight is free speech, and some Low Country students say they've been refused that right by their schools. Dozens of Beaufort and Battery Creek High School students have been suspended after refusing to take off T-shirts displaying the Confederate flag.

The debate over the Confederate flag has been going on for years, but the controversy over these T-shirts began early this week when a number of students from Beaufort High School were suspended for not removing them. That sparked a number of Battery Creek students to wear their T-shirts today, which ended up in dozens of suspensions.

Students began exercising their First Amendment right outside Beaufort High School this morning in a rally.

"I wear my T-shirt because it's my heritage and it's where I came from," said Battery Creek student Charles Tims.

"I didn't wear it to be offensive to other people," added classmate Donte Collins. "I wore it because it's the heritage of the South."

Many parents are standing by their decision to show off their pride.

"I believe that people are turning this thing into a racist issue although it has nothing to do with racism," said Beaufort High parent Renee Armstrong.

Although these students claim the T-shirts are part of their heritage, school officials say they are inappropriate and offensive and go against their handbook rules. Students say they have been wearing these T-shirts for quite some time, and don't know why they're now an issue.

"I don't think standing up for what you believe in or stuff that's been passed through your family, to let it go and take it away because people at school think it's an issue, it's not an issue," student Brandy Fricke said.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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