(CBS) — A high school teacher in Georgia was placed on administrative leave after allegedly posting a message in her classroom saying the Confederate flag symbolizes one’s intent to “marry your sister.”
The controversial message offended one Hephzibah High School student, who told her mom the teacher put a photo of the Confederate flag on the board with text saying: “A sticker you put on the back of your pickup truck to announce that you intend to marry your sister. Think of it like a white trash ‘Save the Date’ card.”
Melissa Fuller told CBS affiliate WRDW that her daughter found it offensive and asked her mom what she thought. Fuller decided to post about the incident on Facebook, where fellow parents and members of the community started discussing it.
“A lot of [the discussion] is that it’s not morally correct. It’s unethical,” Fuller told the station. “It’s just something you don’t want to discuss today in today’s world and especially inside of a classroom.”
Fuller said her daughter once wore a belt to school with a Confederate flag buckle. The school asked her daughter to take it off, which she did, and she received an in-house suspension. “If she can’t wear that belt buckle, then why is it appropriate to make an assignment out of it?” Fuller said.
The mom said her issue was not with the Confederate flag photo, it was with the text. “Why was that used? With it being such a rough area, why would you put that our there to a class discussion that could have turned very ugly?” Fuller said.
Hephzibah is a small city in the Augusta metropolitan area. An image of the Confederate battle flag was removed from the official Georgia state flag in 2003. The battle flag, adopted by the southern pro-slavery states during the Civil War, remains a controversial flashpoint; some consider it part of their heritage while others decry it as a symbol of slavery, Jim Crow and modern-day racism. The debate over the public display of Confederate flags and monuments continues in communities across the country.
Fuller said she did not share the photo of the teacher’s lesson on Facebook to get the teacher in trouble — just to get feedback from other parents, WRDW reports. However, when the story went viral, the teacher was put on administrative leave by the Richmond County School System.
“The Richmond County School System is committed to creating a diverse, equitable learning environment for all students,” the district said in a statement reported by WRDW. “The language used in the example was unacceptable and has no place in our classrooms.”