Students react to high school banning Confederate flag symbols

LAPEL, Ind.- A central Indiana high school has banned students from wearing the Confederate flag after it led to heated arguments.

“Regardless of your opinion of that symbol this was a matter of disruption,” said Lapel High School Principal Chad Kemerly.

Last week, a couple dozen students wore Confederate flag gear and waved the rebel battle flag on their vehicles. The display happened two days in a row and school officials say they had to step in because it caused too much of a disruption.

“The banning of this symbol isn’t because of the symbol; it’s because of the disruption in school. It could be any symbol or any action for that matter, if it’s something that’s prohibiting the education environment, interfering with the sanctity of the learning environment, we have to do something,” said Kemerly.

As of Friday, September 1, nothing with the Confederate flag symbol is allowed on school grounds.

“I don’t agree with that but I understand it that it’s been a disruption to school,” said Jaden Vanalstyne, a junior at Lapel.

Vanalstyne feels the flag is part of our country’s history and he told FOX59 he’s even apologized to students who he may have offended.

“I think it’s kind of gotten out of hand the way it’s at now. I wish it would’ve never gotten to that and I’m sorry people took it as racism,” said Vanalstyne.

“We go to school to feel comfortable, to learn and to feel like it’s a safe place. Yes, it’s [the Confederate flag] is a part of history, but there are some parts of history we don’t need to bring back up and repeat,” said sophomore Morgan Knepp.

Knepp admits the hostility in the hallways became too much for her that she actually stayed home from school one day.

“[It] made me feel like I didn’t belong there,” she said.

The altercations never escalated to a physical level.  No students were officially disciplined, instead school officials chose to have constructive discussions about the meaning behind the controversial Confederate flag.

“We’ve had to sit down one on one with students those that brought the flags and those that were opposed to the flags,” said Kemerly.

Since the ban, the school reports no issues.  The ban will remain in effect indefinitely.

Approximately 470 students attend Lapel High School. Last year, Bloomington High School also banned students from wearing or displaying Confederate flags.