HS Senior Refuses School’s Order To Remove American Flags from Truck, Switches to Homeschooling

 August 25, 2023

Christopher Hartless, a senior at Staunton River High School, in Virginia, said his First Amendment rights are being violated. This followed school officials telling him to remove the two American flags mounted on his red Toyota Tacoma truck.

Reportedly, High School officials told Hartless that the patriotic display, was a distraction to other drivers and a safety concern. Hartless told WSET-

“I don’t understand how it’s a distraction if they have one on the flagpole that every other student can see”… "My family fought for America and I feel like I should be able to represent the flag that they fought for,"

- Christopher Hartless

According to the outlet, Christina Kingery said last Wednesday her stepson, Hartless who is a senior, went to school with American flags mounted on his truck. At that point, Hartless said the school administration told him he needed to take them down because it was a “distraction”. He didn't comply and kept them on his truck. Then, on Monday, about ten minutes into the first period Hartless said he was told he needed to take them down again.

When his parking pass was revoked by the school, his stepmother, Christina Kingery, said she didn’t want him to take the bus, so his family took him out of the high school and is now homeschooling him. The school claims Harless is in violation of the schools student parking contract that Hartless apparently signed at some point.

In a statement released by officials from the high school’s Bedford County school district, it noted that flying flags on vehicles is against-

“the student parking contract”… “which has been used by all 3 of our high schools for many years.”

-Bedford County School District Statement

Further, in their effort to double down on the matter, the school district released a statement regarding the incident to parents, regarding the school district’s code of conduct rules. The statement read-

“The BCPS Code of Student Conduct 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.” It does not include wearing clothing with American flag logos or prints on attire. This attire is allowed.”

“Large flags or banners are not allowed to be flown or displayed on vehicles due to their distractive nature. Please be assured that we proudly fly the American flag throughout the school” adding…

“School Board Policy IEA: Promotion of Patriotism states, “the current American flag shall be displayed on the grounds of every school,” and the Pledge of Allegiance “shall be recited daily, each morning, in every classroom” in accordance with state law. Please be assured that we proudly fly the American flag throughout the school, and the Pledge of Allegiance is recited every morning. Unfortunately, some of the speakers in our intercom system, which was upgraded over the summer, were not functioning properly on the first day of school. This was immediately reported and has been corrected."

-Bedford County School District Statement

Hartless, however, despite the school board ruling, has Kingery’s full support. His stepmother, in her own statement to the outlet said-

“I think that every student [–] doesn’t matter what you believe in, what flag you fly, as long as it’s not harmful and it doesn’t disgrace our country, you have the right to fly it,” adding…"If they're willing to change and let kids want to fly the American flag, then I'll put him back in Staunton River... possibly put him back in Staunton River, but if they don't, then I'm going to continue to let him fly his flags,"

-Christina Kingery

It would seem that if students and parents would like to take this stand for flying the American Flag as Hartless is choosing to do, in an effort to voice his patriotic support for the land his family have fought for – it’s time to head to the school board meeting and make a change in policy. It will have more impact for others in the long run.

That his developing conscience is pricked on behalf of his country, Hartless should see this as his opportunity to do more than make a statement – but as his duty to make this change on behalf of the flag itself and what it represents. Making a difference in policy, that his conscience can follow may help those who agree with his budding patriotism.

Rules that violate the conscience need changed, so long as they can be proven to be supported by the U.S. Constitution. It is a great thing to see one so young with a patriotic conscience take a stand. Hopefully, Hartless and his parents will take up the challenge to correct the boards policy of including the American Flag, in with all the rest, in being disallowed for a display. Time will tell.

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

-Abraham Lincoln
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