The principal at Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina has been taking some heat over the last few days after his decision to ban the American flag from his school's home football game on Friday.
On Saturday a Facebook post showed an image of Hunter Ballew allegedly being denied entrance to Travelers Rest's game against Berea because he was carrying an American flag.
Among other things, Ballew said, "Last night I picked my brother up from the TRHS Football game and he told me that Lavely had denied entry to a couple of young men with Americans flag (sic). ... As I took the flag and attempted to enter myself [a police officer] stated, 'he has the authority to tell anyone they can't bring it on the property.' ... I'm sick of this political correctness. We need to do something about it because it's not getting any better."
The ensuing outrage prompted principal Lou Lavely to issue a statement explaining his decision. According to Greenville Online the school's opponent, Berea, has a large Hispanic community, and Lavely thought the American flags could be used for taunting the other team.
"Any decision to not allow the American flag to be used in an improper 'taunting,' unsportsmanlike manner is first and foremost in the interests of promoting the safety and well-being of all in attendance at school events," he wrote. "This decision would be made anytime that the American flag, or any other symbol, sign, cheer, or action on the part of our fans would potentially compromise the safety of all in attendance at a school event."
Lavely received the support of both Berea's principal and the school district.
"Greenville County Schools encourages and supports the appropriate display of the United States Flag in accord with the United States Flag Code," the district wrote in a statement. "We do not condone the use of the Flag to shield unsportsmanlike or inappropriate conduct. To allow such use is disrespectful to the Flag, the principles which it represents and the sacrifices of those who have and are serving to defend it."
The statement also said that there is no school or district ban on the American flag, as long as it is being used appropriately.
The next Travelers Rest home football game is scheduled for Sept. 9.