Spokane, WA – A high school senior in Spokane has had two senior yearbook photos rejected because she posed with an American flag.
Sierra Athos, 17, said her flag pictures have nothing to do with politics and that she just wanted to show that she loved America when she took her senior pictures, KVEW reported.
Athos initially submitted a picture of herself standing in front of a pickup truck with a Trump 2020 flag and an American flag behind her, The Spokesman-Review reported.
“That wasn’t surprising,” she said.
The school administration told her in an email that there was a new rule against using props in senior pictures, The Spokesman-Review reported.
Athos said multiple classmates have used props in their pictures and none of them had a problem, KHQ reported.
“I have been notified by other people that their yearbook picture has been accepted and they have props in the background, so this makes me think it’s more than about props,” she explained.
So Athos submitted a new picture of her wearing an American Flag draped over her shoulders.
The administration sent her another rejection email citing the same issue and calling the flag a prop, The Spokesman-Review reported.
Frustrated, she complained about the pictures with flags being rejected from the yearbook on social media on Dec. 6.
Her post was met with a both support and condemnation and sparked controversy in Athos’ school and community, The Spokesman-Review reported.
She told KHQ that she has been called a “bootlicker,” a “white supremacist,” and a “racist” for posing with the flag.
Athos has also been repeatedly slammed for wearing a flag in violation of the U.S. Code governing American flags so she took to Facebook to respond, The Spokesman-Review reported.
“Well I’m sorry for using the flag as ‘clothing or apparel’ and ‘draping it over me’ because that goes against certain guidelines (flag code),” Athos wrote on her Facebook page. “People have also pointed out that the stripes on the bottom of my shoes are offensive, but it’s not the American flag so they can calm down on that one. I’m also not sitting on the ground nor am I sitting on the flag. I would NEVER let the flag touch the ground.”
“I don’t think I’m the ‘exception’ or ‘entitled’ to anything, but I’m just reaching out since the school was not doing anything,” her post continued. “Yes I had a back-up plan and this was it. My first senior photo was rejected and I understood, but this one was too and I was sick of it.”
“If everyone keeps claiming that I am using the flag as ‘clothing’ then theres no way that it could be a ‘prop’ therefore making it acceptable in the yearbook. I am sick of the people saying I am the opposite of patriotic for this picture and will let them spew the lies.”
But Lewis and Clark High School Principal Marybeth Smith told The Spokesman-Review the situation was being misrepresented.
“We do not and have not banned the American flag from inclusion in photos,” Smith said in a statement. “In the past we have celebrated students who have enlisted in the military by using senior photos highlighting their branch of service – students in uniform and U.S. flag displayed behind them.
“It’s been an honor to portray our seniors in this way,” the principal continued. “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.”
Section 8 of Title 4, of U.S. Code, entitled “Respect for flag” says “the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
Smith met with Athos and her parents on Dec. 8 and said afterwards “I think we’re in a really good place.”
But Athos said the school administrator still won’t allow her flag-wearing photos in the yearbook, The Spokesman-Review reported.
“I’m not looking for an exception just for me,” Athos said. “I just wanted the rules to be enforced fairly.”
Athos said she was told she could submit another senior picture for consideration but said she wasn’t sure she was going to, The Spokesman-Review reported.
“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. I at least wanted my senior picture of choice in the yearbook, but apparently that was too much to ask,” the high school senior told KREM.