Families homeschool for a variety of reasons. Religious beliefs and parents’ desires to develop certain character qualities in their children top the list. Some choose to homeschool because their local public education system is lacking in areas they feel are important. Many families prefer the flexibility of tailoring an academic program to suit individual abilities and interests. Others cite bullying or behavioral problems as the root of their decision to educate at home.
And then there is Christopher Hartless, a 17-year-old teen who just started his senior year of high school in Bedford County, Virginia. Christopher’s parents withdrew their son from the local public school and began homeschooling him after administrators wouldn’t let him display American flags on his pickup truck.
Flying American flags on pickup trucks is common practice where we come from. You’d think Virginians would be more accommodating of such patriotic displays since their ancestors were among the leaders of the American Revolution. However, Staunton River High School officials demanded that Christopher remove the flags that were mounted on his red Toyota Tacoma.
Christopher refused to comply and his parking pass was revoked. His stepmother, Christina Kingery, said she didn’t want him to take the bus, so his family took him out of school to be homeschooled.
In a statement to local media, a school representative said that the student parking contract explicitly bans all flags and banners on vehicles for safety reasons. The school’s principal said that the flags were a distraction and that they could be seen as a political statement.
So which one is the real reason? We don’t know, but Christopher Hartless believes he is exercising his First Amendment rights by flying the flags. The teenager said that it’s simply his way of expressing his patriotism.
“My family fought for America, and I feel like I should be able to represent the flags that they fought for,” Christopher said in an interview with Fox 19 in Virginia. He has no intention of ever taking them down.
His stepmom said, “I told my son if this is what he’s believing in, then we are both going to stand behind him all the way… I’m going to continue to let him fly his flags.”
Christopher Hartless is a real patriot and it’s nice that his family is backing him up!