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Virginia school board refuses to ban Confederate flag from the dress code

TODAY logo TODAY 1/16/2020 Alyssa Newcomb
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A Virginia school board is refusing a dress code ban on clothing showing the Confederate flag, despite the appeals of the board's only black member.

The Franklin County School Board in Rocky Mount, Virginia, voted 7-1 on Monday against formally writing a ban on the Confederate flag into the dress code. The board cited Tinker vs. Des Moines, a 1969 case that ruled students were allowed to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War and did not lose their right to free expression, even while attending school.

"In Franklin County, we do not have any documented cases of a substantial disruption caused by the Confederate flag; therefore it would not be appropriate to ban the Confederate flag and violate a student's First Amendment rights. Should it become a problem in the future, we would consider a ban," Julie Nix, chair of the Franklin County School Board, told TODAY.

The racial makeup of Franklin County is 87% Caucasian and about 8% African American, according to the most recent U.S. Census data available.

Penny Blue, the board's only black member and dissenting vote, said the Confederate flag is a disruption and should be banned.

a close up of a flag: Confederate Flag on pole over blue sky. © Getty Images stock Confederate Flag on pole over blue sky.

"When we see the Confederate flag, that tells us, 'Do not enter. We are not welcome,'" she told TODAY. "it means the n-word, rape, lynchings, all of those things. The Confederate flag is used for white supremacy."

While the vote to ban the flag didn't pass, Blue said she isn't going to let the topic go away.

"I am not through until I get this done," she said.

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