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High School Rejects Senior Photo Because Student Posed With American Flag

A Washington high school rejected student Sierra Athos' senior photo saying she wrongly used the American flag as a "prop." Who's right?

A high school in Spokane, Washington rejected the senior photo of a female student posing with an American flag. Why? The school says their decision was based on the flag being “used as a prop.”

High School Rejects Student’s American Flag Senior Photo

Sierra Athos, a senior at Lewis and Clark High School, told reporters that she was “excited to submit her patriotic pictures,” according to WKYC.

It was only later that the high school rejected her senior photo submission, saying in an email that it did so because of the American flag.

This rejection was devastating for Athos, who has already been struggling to deal with the challenges of 2020 as we all have. 

“This year is already crappy enough because there is no prom, no homecoming, no dances, no in-person classes, no sports games, no seeing my friends everyday, no any normal high school things,” she lamented.

“I at least wanted my senior picture of choice in the yearbook, but apparently that was too much to ask.”

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Principal Explains High School’s Rejection Of American Flag Senior Photo

Lewis and Clark High School Principal Marybeth Smith responded in a post on the school’s Facebook page.

The Principal stated that Lewis and Clark does not and has not “banned the American flag from inclusion in photos.”

“Quick point of clarification regarding senior pix,” the principal wrote. “We do not and have not banned the American flag from inclusion in photos. In the past we have celebrated students who have enlisted in the military by using senior photos highlighting their branch of service – student in uniform and US flag displayed behind them.  It’s been an honor to portray our seniors in this way.”  

“We have rejected a photo this year in which our American flag was displayed in a way not sanctioned by Title Four, US Code, Chapter One,” she added.

The Principal’s lengthy post continued, assuring the community of the school’s patriotism.

“We say the Pledge daily during school, we have our flag displayed in accordance with Code guidelines on our stage during all school events and we even have one of the largest US flags in this area in our gym – it is celebrated during the playing of our National Anthem prior to athletic competitions held there.”

“We respect our flag as much as any school in the area and were concerned that in the photo submitted it was being used as a prop in the photo and was not being afforded appropriate regard,” Smith continued. 

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Social Media Supports High School Student

Many commenting on the post have stood by the high school senior. They applaud and defend Athos’ choice to display the American flag in her high school senior photos.

One person points out that “it does expressly violate the U.S. flag code, and this is considered just as bad as burning the flag or stomping on it.”

“Nothing wrong with a teen wanting to show her patriotism for her country,” another commenter wrote in support of Athos. 

We are certainly all about giving the flag the respect that it deserves. But it’s pretty clear that Athos was trying to promote and honor the flag in these photos, not desecrate it.

It’s increasingly rare to see young people fighting to proudly show off the American flag these days. So we hope the Washington high school reconsiders their decision.

This country needs all the young American flag-loving patriots we can get right now!

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