Confederate Flag Causes ‘Fear and Anxiety’ Banned at Big Sky High
Officials at Missoula's Big Sky High School have asked several students to no longer wear items of clothing with the Confederate Flag, or to have that flag on any other item.
Big Sky Principal Natalie Jaeger said she has approached several students over the past month to remove clothing or other items that display the Confederate flag.
"Every time it has happened, a group of students has reported these instances to me right away because they were alarmed," said Jaeger. "when the students were reporting that there was a Confederate flag being displayed, they felt it was disruptive to their education environment and caused them to experience fear and anxiety while at school. Each time I spoke to the students and asked them to put it away, however, a few students have continued to display it, and when there has been a second offense I have moved on to behavior consequences."
Jaeger said the Confederate flag is divisive and a symbol of racism.
"In 2018 I consider that flag to be a symbol that is used to express racism and oppression, and for us it just has no place in an educational environment," she said.
When a student continues to defy the authority of the school, there are escalating consequences.
"We have a conversation with them first, and then we move to consequences such as detention and in-school and out-of-school suspension," she said. "Every case is different and each student is different, but that's the progressive discipline we take at our school."
Following is a message delivered to all Big Sky High School parents:
Dear Big Sky Families,
Over the past month I have asked several students to remove clothing or other items that display the Confederate flag. I have done this because our school and the larger school district have determined that the Confederate flag in any method of display or dress is disruptive to the education environment of our students. Students have reported that the display of the Confederate flag is offensive and disruptive to their educational environment and its display causes them to experience fear and anxiety at school.
In the next few days there will most likely be media coverage around my decision to enforce this stance and some of our students protesting these decisions. Every family and student at Big Sky has the right to agree or disagree with these decision, but I ask that every member of this community do so respectfully.
Please know that any display of the Confederate flag on our school property should be addressed by a staff member, but I have emailed your students to take time to report anything we miss to a teacher, counselor, administrator. We will continue to act immediately in each instance.
If you have questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call or email me or another administrator. I hope your family has a peaceful, safe and productive end of the school year.
All my best,
One of the parents who finds the policy troubling is Mark Rodriguez.
"I'm definitely not for segregation or making people feel bad," Rodriguez said. "but I believe that it is important that we look at the history of our country, the good and the bad, and how we've learned and grown from those experiences. Maybe we also need to look at what's making those students feel anxiety of fear from different things at school. Censoring things that are from our history, it's important to maybe step back and reflect on what's going on in our classrooms."
KGVO reached out to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen's office and her spokesman Dylan Klapmeier said the matter is of local concern with Superintendent Mark Thane and that the state would not comment.
Thane's office said the policy on Confederate flags is not written, but it is followed at all three of the public high schools.