Personal Freedoms

published : 2023-08-24

Virginia Teen Chooses Homeschooling After School Officials Demand Removal of American Flags from His Vehicle

The student stands firm on his belief of the right to represent American flags that his family fought for

A young man standing next to his pickup truck, proudly displaying two American flags flapping in the wind. In the background is a rural Virginia landscape lit up by the early morning sun. (Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

A young man from Virginia has chosen to leave his high school after officials requested the removal of two American flags from his pickup truck. The student, identified as Christopher Hartless of Staunton River High School, perceives this as an exercise of his First Amendment rights and decided to switch to homeschooling rather than comply with the officials' demands.

Christopher passionately explained his stance, stating that his family has fought for America, and consequently, he feels entitled to represent the flags they fought for. His stepmother, Christina Kingery, revealed that it was a usual day for Hartless when he drove to his Bedford County school with the flags attached to his truck until he was instructed by school administrators to take them down due to being a distraction.

A close-up shot of a revoked parking pass lying on a wooden table, with the high school building blurred out in the background. The shot includes some elements of homeschooling, such as textbooks and notebooks. (Taken with Nikon D850)

In his defense, Hartless questioned how the flags could be a distraction when a flag is flown on the school's flagpole in plain sight. On his decision to fight for what he believes, his stepmother affirmed they would stand together, regardless of the consequences. The following week, school officials reiterated their demand, and his parking pass was revoked. Lacking a suitable alternative transportation method, Kingery and Hartley decided on homeschooling as their next step.

However, Kingery stated that they would consider reintegrating Hartless into the school system if the school would allow students who wish to fly the American flag to do so. The school, in response, published a press release outlining a policy in place for over a decade, prohibiting students from flying large flags or banners on their vehicles, sighting potential risks to student navigation and safety in the parking lot.

A wide-angle shot of Staunton River High School with the American flag flying high on the school's flagpole. A group of students can be seen in the distance, adding a dynamic element to the scene. (Taken with Sony α7R IV)

Despite the situation, the school was keen to clarify their position, explaining that the rule does not apply to the American flag on attire but strictly banners on vehicles which can pose a distraction. Bedford County, home to about 80,000 residents and the National D-Day Memorial, opens every school day with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the fly of the American flag, as noted by the school board.