A 12-year-old suspended from school for wearing a Gadsden flag patch on his backpack says students need to fight for their rights or see them fade away.
Jaiden Rodriguez — a seventh-grader at The Vanguard School, a Colorado Springs charter school — was suspended for one day before the school relented and welcomed him back to the classroom, according to KOAA-TV.
Rodriguez was suspended because the school said the flag — its significance and historical context both Rodriguez and his mother tried to explain to an administrator — broke the rules because of its connections to slavery.
As noted by the Encyclopedia Britannica, the yellow flag with a coiled snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me” was first used in the Revolutionary War in 1775 and was based on a design by Ben Franklin dating from 1754.
“We definitely gave her a history lesson,” the boy said of his teacher during an appearance Wednesday on Charlie Kirk’s show.
He said that he was quizzed about a slogan on his backpack, wondering whether “Sic Semper Tyrannis” was connected with violence.
“Well, it means death always to tyrants,” he said, citing its use as a slogan in 1776.
He said the publicity of a video of his interaction with school officials tipped the scales in his favor.
This was the video that sparked all the attention. pic.twitter.com/bXkptIUApW
— Jaiden Rodriguez (@jrodgadsen) August 30, 2023
“If it didn’t go viral, they’d probably suspend me if I didn’t listen to them,” he said, adding that he might have been expelled.
He said his purpose was simple.
“I was just trying to stand up for all the kids there,” he said.
“I’m going back to school with the ‘Don’t Tread on Me patch proudly on,” he said, referring to his backpack.
Jaiden speaks! He’s so grateful for all the support you’ve all shown. 🇺🇸💪🏼🎉 pic.twitter.com/pyW9pzsic2
— Connor Boyack 📚 (@cboyack) August 30, 2023
He said his message to other students wondering whether to risk losing friends by standing up for their beliefs was, “Would you rather have friends and live under a tyrannical system or stand up for yourself and your rights but maybe lose a few friends.”
“You will lose friends, maybe,” he said, noting that he ate lunch alone after being singled out by school authorities. “But however, you’re standing up for your rights and vouching for them because if no one stands up for your God-given rights, then they just fade away.”
DON’T TREAD ON JAIDEN.
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 30, 2023
Jaiden’s mother, Eden Rodriguez, secretly recorded her meeting with a school administrator who informed her that Jaiden could not have the patch in school because it was allegedly linked to the country’s slave days.
“So, the reason that they do not want the flag — the reason we do not want the flag displayed — is due to its origins with slavery and slave trade,” the administrator said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.