Patriotism in the United States seems to be more and more controversial. For instance, an apartment building across the street from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., put a ban on banners after someone flew a “Trump: Make America Great Again” flag.
In another instance, a Texas police officer was ridiculed online after he was photographed heroically protecting an American flag before the Category 4 Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25.
The alarming trend of patriotism being viewed as somehow offensive or incendiary has now extended to American schools. Patriotic students in one high school in Sacramento County sparked controversy by chanting, “USA!”
At Vista Del Lago High School in Folsom, California, students and parents say chanting “USA” is a popular way for students to display pride in their country at large gatherings, like during sporting events and rallies. Yet this week, school and district officials warned students that the chants could appear inappropriate and intolerant.
The topic was brought to the table by school staff during a leadership class.
On Wednesday, in an announcement over the intercom system, the school’s principal said, “Sometimes, we can communicate an unintended message.”
She also said USA-chanting is welcome, but suggested it be done at appropriate times, like following the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. She further sent out an email to families, relaying the same message, for clarity.
Reportedly, school officials are concerned that the chants will come across as intolerant and offensive to some.
“I wasn’t angry, but I was definitely like, ‘Why can’t we chant USA?’” senior Ryan Bernal reported to CBS13. “To say USA, you know, we’re all the same. We’re all American. It doesn’t matter what your skin tone is or where you’re from.”
Parents who spoke with CBS13 agreed that the chant was an expression of pride and acceptance.
Natalie Woodbury, a parent of a student at the school, said, “I want to chant USA because I want us to pull together and help, not because I want anybody to feel left out or not a part of our country.”
The Folsom Cordova Unified District admits there has never been a complaint about USA chants at the high school. It clarified that there is no ban on chanting “USA,” yet they do want students to be mindful of the feelings of others, who might not appreciate the chant.
Communications Director Daniel Thigpen said, “To practice empathy, to practice kindness and to practice patriotism, you can do both.”
According to CBS13, some schools across the country used similar chants in ways which appeared to be derogatory toward opponents of differing ethnicity.
The California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees high school athletics, addressed the concerns with local districts. SJS CIF Commissioner Mike Garrison said, “There’s a time and a place to yell that and cheer that.”
Students say there’s likely to be a lot of chanting this Friday, during a football game where the theme is USA pride.
“I’m glad that they will still allow our students to cheer for our country,” said another parent, Cody Santero.
Bernal concurred, “We’re all one. We all stand as one together.”
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