A Colorado school quickly reversed course after a viral clip revealed a 12-year-old student was reportedly removed from class for having a “Don’t Tread on Me” patch on his backpack.

The viral clip, which made its way on X, formerly Twitter, featured a confrontation between the student, his mother, and school staff at a Colorado Springs charter school. The student, Jaiden, missed class and the school staffer explained to the mother that it was because his backpack had a patch of the Gadsden flag. The staffer said the patch was unacceptable because of its connection with slavery. The mother refuted that claim, saying the flag was flown during the American Revolutionary War. However, the staffer stood firm and said she was enforcing district policy.

The mother, Eden Rodriguez, told the staffer in the video that it’s not right to ban the Gadsden patch since other patches are still allowed. “We teach him to always stick up for your beliefs,” she said in the clip. “The Founding Fathers stood up for what they believed in against unjust laws. This is unjust.”

Connor Boyack, President of the Libertas Institute and executive producer for Tuttle Twins TV, shared the clip to his following. Boyack reported that one district director emailed Rodriguez as a follow-up to expound on why the flag is an “unacceptable symbol.” The director referenced the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), noting that while the Gadsden flag has a “non-racial context,” some have now associated the flag with “hate groups.” Additionally, the director said the Gadsden patch fell under the list of unacceptable items referring to “drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons.”

According to Rodriguez, she was told her son Jaiden violated the school’s dress code policy and he missed a total of three days of school. But then, the school changed direction after the clip went viral. The Board of Directors at the school, Vanguard, wrote a statement to students and families explaining the situation. The Board said the administration acted consistently with the district’s policy. The Board stated, “The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history.” As such, the Board allowed Jaiden to return to class with the patch still on his backpack.

The district also said the video did not tell the entire story. The district claimed, “The patch in question was part of half a dozen other patches of semi-automatic weapons,” and “The student has removed the semi-automatic patches.”

The school staffer in the video, Assistant Principal Beth Danjuma, said the school takes racial issues “very seriously” and works to create consequences that can be a positive “learning experience” for the student. 

Despite what happened, Eden Rodriguez said she’s proud of her son Jaiden for sticking with his beliefs. Jaiden said he’s glad that his story was shared, speculating that he otherwise would have still been suspended and likely later expelled. He said he’s eaten lunch alone since the incident—but, he said it’s worth it and encouraged other students to do the same. 

“If no one stands up for your God-given rights, then they just fade away,” he said.

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