A 12-year-old California honor student was ordered to change his t-shirt—because the American flag was too deemed too offensive and a threat to safety.
Dustin Cole, who attends Yuba Gardens Intermediate School, was forced to turn his shirt inside out.
The shirt in question had an image of the American flag, with one star colored red with the number 31 inside it. Underneath, the word “California”—California was admitted as the 31st state in the Union.
The school claimed that the t-shirt represented a threat to school safety, because a red star is also associated with the local Norteno gang.
“Our local gang task force, they identify colors, they identify designs, they identify all of the things that we should be aware of,” said Ramiro Carreon, Assistant Superintendent at Marysville Joint Unified School District, which oversees Yuba Gardens.
“That design has been associated with gangs in the past, and we cannot just turn a blind eye to that,” Carreon saids.
Cole’s mother, Lori Carpenter, was perplexed by the controversy. She said she bought the shirt from Kohl’s, and bought it simply because she liked the color and liked the patriotic design.
She said, “I mean, they are trying to keep everybody safe. I understand, but it feels like it is a little too far. Especially when it is a patriotic shirt.”
Cole obeyed the request to turn his shirt inside out immediately, and Carpenter says she’ll be more careful to avoid accidentally “offensive” clothing in the future.