Students in a California school district will not be allowed to wear American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, due to concerns that such displays of patriotism would inflame racial tensions by offending Mexican students on their holiday.
The district’s policy concerned many free speech advocates, but was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In response, Tea Party groups plan to protest outside Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill. And they will be wearing American flag T-shirts.
“They silenced a symbol of patriotism and freedom in America,” said Georgine Scott-Codiga, president of the Gillroy-Morgan Hill Patriots, in a statement to KCBS.
The trouble dates back to Cinco de Mayo in 2010, when the school forced four students to remove their American flag T-shirts. Administrators worried that fighting would break out between white and Latino students if the shirts were noticed, and so the four offending students were sent home.
The practice of limiting one group’s free speech rights because that speech might cause another group to react violently is known as the “heckler’s veto.” It is understood by free speech enthusiasts to have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights.
The Ninth Circuit, however, ruled in February that the school was legally permitted to abridge white students’ free speech rights in service of Latino students’ feelings.
The Tea Party protest is focused on the free speech issue, said Scott-Codiga.
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