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Court rules school can ban American flag shirts to avoid racial strife
A federal court ruled Thursday that a northern California high school did not violate the constitutional rights of its students when school officials made them turn their American flag T-shirts inside out on Cinco de Mayo or be sent home due to fears of racial violence.
The three-judge panel unanimously decided the officials’ need to protect the safety of their students outweighed the students’ freedom of expression rights.
Administrators at Live Oak High School, in the San Jose suburb of Morgan Hill, feared the American-flag shirts would enflame Latino students celebrating the Mexican holiday, and ordered the students to either turn the shirts inside out or go home for the day.
The school had a history of problems between white and Latino students on that day, and also had a documented history of violence between gang members and between racial groups. The court said these past problems gave school officials sufficient and justifiable reasons for their actions and that schools have wide latitude in curbing certain civil rights to ensure campus safety.