A Colorado middle-schooler was kicked out of class on Monday for wearing a patch of the Gadsden flag on his backpack.
Jaiden, a seventh grader at The Vanguard School, a charter school in Colorado Springs, was pulled from class on Monday after school staff noticed the Gadsden patch.
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
His mother came to the school with a younger child in tow to discuss the situation.
She was told that her son “needs to take that patch off” and that the Gadsden flag is not allowed in class because it has “origins with slavery” and the “slave trade,” a video of the conversation shows.
“We can’t have that in and around other kids,” a woman who appears to be school staff tells Jaiden’s mother in the video.
“It has nothing to do with slavery. That’s the Revolutionary War patch that was displayed when they were fighting the British,” the mother responds.
The Gadsden flag, a yellow flag depicting a coiled rattlesnake with the words “Don’t Tread On Me,” a warning to Britain, was flown during the Revolutionary War. The flag was designed in 1775 by U.S. brigadier general Christopher Gadsden, who critics have pointed out was a slave owner.
“She said I have to take it off. I don’t understand. Why would I have to take off a patriotic symbol? It’s just weird, it’s kind of weird. I feel like she’s infringing on my rights,” Jaiden said in another video provided by his mother to The Daily Wire.
The school initially flagged Jaiden’s patch in an email to his mother earlier this month and referred to a district policy banning items that “refer to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons,” according to emails viewed by The Daily Wire.
On Friday, Vanguard School Executive Director Renee Henslee told Jaiden’s mother in an email that they noticed his “unacceptable” patch at the end of the day. She warned that if he returned to school on Monday with the Gadsden patch, he would be sent to the front office until it was removed, emails show.
The school said Jaiden’s Firearms Policy Coalition Official Member patch, which includes a picture of a semi-automatic rifle, is not allowed at school either. However, his Dogecoin and “Bear Arms And Bitcoin” patches are allowed, the school said.
Then on Monday, the school offered its rationale for banning the symbol.
Vanguard School Director of Operations Jeff Yocum emailed Jaiden’s mother an explanation that cited several news articles about the flag.
Yocum cited a decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said that while it is “clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context,” nevertheless, “it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.”
Yocum also said in his email that the Gadsden flag is “tied to the Confederate flag and other white-supremacy groups, including ‘Patriot’ groups,” citing an article by an associate professor of graphic design. He also said the Gadsden is “tied to hate groups” and cited an article that noted the flag was flown at the Capitol riot.
Finally, Yocum cited the U.S. Navy’s 2016 decision to authorize a slightly different “Don’t Tread On Me” patch, but not the Gadsden patch.
“We truly hope to have Jaiden back at school tomorrow to resume his normal school day, but that will require this patch to be removed from his backpack,” Yocum wrote in his email to Jaiden’s mother.
Jaiden appeared to return to school on Tuesday wearing the Gadsden patch, as well as a tricornered hat, according to a social media post from Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, who first sounded the alarm about the school’s decision.
For those asking for an update:
– Jaiden decided to go back to school today. With his patch will in place. He said he'd do a sit-in if necessary to protest.
– Two law firms have stepped forward to assist as necessary to fight the viewpoint discrimination.
– Lots of media… pic.twitter.com/lEVH6XiLDm
— Connor Boyack 📚 (@cboyack) August 29, 2023
Neither the Vanguard School nor the Harrison School District Two responded to a request for comment.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis reacted to the video of the exchange with school staff on social media, saying the Gadsden flag is “obviously” a “proud symbol of the American revolution.”
Obviously the Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and a iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans. It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to…
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) August 29, 2023
“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!” Polis posted on X, formerly Twitter.