Two seniors at a private Catholic high school in South Huntington, N.Y., were indefinitely suspended for wearing a Confederate flag draped around their shoulders, CBS New York reports. The students, who brought the flag to an after-hours sports event at the Long Island school, have prompted outrage, according to the report.
“The African-American students who immediately saw it really exercised heroic restraint, and fortunately a teacher immediately confiscated the flag and took the students out of the gym,” Principal Gary Cregan of St. Anthony’s High told the station.
The seniors originally were suspended for only 10 days, but it was decided earlier this week that their punishment would be extended. Cregan also sent notes to parents making it clear that symbols “designed to revive past injustices or to inflame discrimination or racial intolerance, [are] completely unacceptable and profoundly offensive,” Newsday notes, according to CBS New York.
“I find it just very hard to even imagine why any student in 2014 would even consider or think that a Confederate flag would be anything other than a symbol of hate,” Cregan told the news site. “I certainly think this particular symbol of hate falls in the category of something that should be excised from our culture.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union, however, is coming to the students’ defense, arguing that they should have the freedom to express themselves, regardless of how offensive that expression is.
“Our motto is more speech, not censorship or punishment,” NYCLU director Donna Lieberman told CBS New York. “Helping children understand the impact of this patently offensive expressive activity.”
Read more at CBS New York.