Black students allege school district banned BLM attire but allowed nooses, confederate symbols
A lawsuit claims school officials said Black Lives Matter messaging is disruptive, while the Confederate flag represents "heritage not hate" and is a matter of pride.
Three Black students in Southeast Georgia are suing a school district, contending its officials’ enforcement of an unconstitutional dress code that forbade Black Lives Matter attire but permitted nooses and confederate emblems on campuses violated their First Amendment rights.
Lakeisha Hamilton, the mother of one of the students, and Tauretta McCray, the mother of the remaining two, filed the federal civil rights lawsuit against the Effingham County School District on behalf of their minor children, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported Monday.
They claim administrators at Effingham County High School and Effingham College & Career Academy, located about 20 miles northwest of Savannah, engaged in an egregious pattern of purposefully ignoring reports regarding racial intimidation and discrimination incidents.
“The school permits faculty to display paraphernalia supporting former President Donald Trump,” according to the lawsuit. “However, the school has expressly prohibited Plaintiffs from wearing Black Lives Matter messaging because it is disruptive and controversial.”
In one instance, a Black student was allegedly refused entry to a football game for wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, but a white student faced no repercussions for showing up to the same function wearing a shirt that read “Stomp on My Flag; I’ll Stomp Your A**.”
The lawsuit alleges that school officials told Black students Black Lives Matter messaging depicts a disruption, while the Confederate flag represents “heritage not hate” and is a matter of pride, according to GPB.
In addition, there was an instance of a white educator making explicitly racist remarks, plus “a white student wearing a full Hitler costume during spirit week after obtaining prior approval from a teacher” and openly using racial slurs, including the N-word.
The discriminatory incidents at Effingham County High also included two students writing racial epithets on lockers in the baseball locker room and someone hanging a noose in the football locker room, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs want the court to declare that the Effingham County School District’s actions violated the Civil Rights Act and the First and 14th Amendments. They’re also requesting to have their disciplinary records regarding the charges expunged, a permanent injunction making the district comply with federal law and monetary compensation.
In their official roles, Yancy Ford, the Effingham County School District superintendent, and the five board members named defendants in the lawsuit asserted that they hadn’t yet been served.
“Defendants have been aware of a pervasive and consistent pattern of peer-to-peer harassment and discrimination,” claims the lawsuit. “Yet they failed to prevent or address the peer-to-peer racial harassment that was sufficiently serious as to create a hostile environment; that is, harassment that denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from school.”
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