A high school teacher in Fayetteville has gotten in trouble with school officials at Massey Hill Classical High School after stepping on an American Flag during class. The teacher, Lee Francis has been placed on leave because of a demonstration illustrating part of a case in Texas about freedom of speech. The Texas v. Johnson case was heard by the Supreme Court and ruled that burning and stepping on a flag is protected by law.
According to USA Today:
A North Carolina high school teacher was placed on leave Tuesday after stepping on an American flag during a history lesson on the First Amendment, according to local reports.
Lee Francis, who teaches at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, N.C., said he pulled a flag out of a closet in his office while teaching the class about the court case Texas v. Johnson, where the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning constitutes symbolic speech and is protected under law.
He said he began by asking the class who “has the right to freedom of speech,” to which they responded “all American citizens.”
What the students did not understand is that freedom of speech is not only limited to what is spoken or written, he said. So, he decided to show them.
“I laid the flag on the ground and with my right foot I took a couple of taps,” he said. “I didn’t jump on it or do cartwheels, but I did put my foot on it to give them a visual representation … Freedom of speech is this symbolic gesture that says you can desecrate the flag as an American citizen.”
Francis said two students walked out during the demonstration, and many in the community expressed outrage over the incident. He notes that he’s received death threats and hundreds of angry emails along with others who have defended him.
“I find it ironic as ‘unAmerican’ as people have called me, that I was actually doing what the Supreme Court said was an American right,” he said.
Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Frank Till told WNCN-TV he did not agree with the way Francis taught the lesson.
“Clearly, there are other ways to teach First Amendment rights without desecrating the flag,” Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Frank Till said in a statement, WNCN-TV reported.
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