A Colorado middle schooler’s removal from class over patches on his backpack, including a Gadsden flag emblem, has ignited a widespread social media debate.
The incident occurred at The Vanguard School, where a 12-year-old student was asked to take off a patch featuring the Gadsden flag—a coiled rattlesnake with the words “Don’t tread on me” on a yellow background. A video, posted on X (formerly Twitter), captured a conversation between the student’s mother and a school administrator discussing the issue.
In the video, the administrator can be heard saying, “We cannot display that [patch]… because of the historical origins of the flag. The historical origins—the Revolutionary War, the creation of our country—there was a war fought because people wanted to keep slaves.”
However, the mother countered by explaining that the flag’s roots can be traced back to the Revolutionary War, dissociating it from slavery. She responded, “The flag… originated in the Revolutionary War… It was a protest to the British and their rule. It had nothing to do with slavery. It was to protect the Americans’ rights.”
In addition to the Gadsden flag patch, the student reportedly sported several other patches depicting semi-automatic weapons, contravening the school’s dress code guidelines.
The video of the meeting was shared by conservative author Connor Boyack and quickly gained traction online, provoking a nationwide dialogue on the flag’s historical context and significance. Even Colorado’s Governor, Jared Polis, weighed in to support the student named Jaiden. He tweeted, “The Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American Revolution and an iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans.”
Historically, the Gadsden flag was employed by the US’s first naval commander-in-chief during the American Revolution.
In response to public backlash, the school board held an emergency meeting and reversed its directive to remove the Gadsden flag patch, as reported by the Denver Gazette. The student was informed that he could return to class with the flag emblem on his backpack.
In an email to Vanguard families, the school board reiterated its commitment to constitutional principles and acknowledged the Gadsden flag’s historical significance. The email stated, “From Vanguard’s founding we have proudly supported our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the ordered liberty that all Americans have enjoyed for almost 250 years.”