A Colorado middle schooler was reportedly kicked out of class for having several patches on his backpack, including one of a Gadsden flag — sparking a social media uproar.
The 12-year-old student at The Vanguard School was ordered to remove the patch of the flag — which features a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase “Don’t tread on me” on a yellow background — before he was allowed to return to class, according to footage of a meeting between the child’s mother and an administrator posted to X, formerly Twitter.
The administrator at the public charter school tells the boy’s mom that he cannot display the patch due to the flag’s “origins with slavery and the slave trade,” the video of the meeting shows.
However, the mom replies that the Gadsden flag’s origins can actually be traced back to the Revolutionary War — not slavery.
The seventh-grader also reportedly had other patches depicting semi-automatic weapons, which the school said violated its dress code policy.
Meet 12yo Jaiden who was kicked out of class yesterday in Colorado Springs for having a Gadsden flag patch, which the school claims has “origins with slavery.”
The school’s director said via email that the patch was “disruptive to the classroom environment.”
Receipts in the 🧵 pic.twitter.com/qQ8jK1zSpR
— Connor Boyack 📚 (@cboyack) August 29, 2023
The clip of the meeting was posted by conservative author Connor Boyack and quickly went viral online, drawing attention across the country and sparking a nationwide debate over the history and relevance of the flag.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, even weighed in to defend the boy named Jaiden.
“The Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and an iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans,” Polis tweeted in response to the video.
A Colorado teacher kicked a student, shown here, out of the classroom for having a Gadsden flag patched on his backpack. Twitter / @cboyack
“It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to symbolize the union of the 13 colonies. It’s a great teaching moment for a history lesson!”
The flag was first used by the US’s first naval commander-in-chief as a personal ensign during the American Revolution, according to Britannica.
In more recent years, it was adopted by the conservative Tea Party movement and has become increasingly associated with right-wing politics.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in 2016 that the flag itself is not a racist symbol but is “sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts” while investigating a US Postal employee complaint about a coworker wearing a hat with the flag.
The school said the seventh-grader had other patches depicting semi-automatic weapons that violated their dress code policy.Twitter / @cboyack
Following public outrage, the school’s board of directors called an emergency meeting and walked back its demands that Jaiden remove the patch, the Denver Gazette reported.
The school notified the student and his family on Tuesday that he may return to class with the flag emblem on his backpack, according to the local newspaper.
“From Vanguard’s founding we have proudly supported our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the ordered liberty that all Americans have enjoyed for almost 250 years,” the board wrote in an email to Vanguard families. “The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history. This incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to a classical education in support of these American principles.”
However, the school district said the dispute over the Gadsden flag which garnered so much attention is only part of the story.
The Gadsden flag was first used by the US’s first naval commander-in-chief as a personal ensign during the American Revolution, according to Britannica. AP
“There has been National media attention on our charter school, The Vanguard School, related to a student having the Gadsden flag on his backpack,” Harrison School District 2 administrators said in an email obtained by the newspaper. “Unfortunately, this story is incomplete.”
The child also had multiple patches of semi-automatic guns on his backpack.
“The patch in question was part of half a dozen other patches of semi-automatic weapons,” the administrators said. “…The student returned to class without incident after removing the patches of semi-automatic weapons from the backpack.”