"It was done just for the sole fact that I just wanted a rebel flag dress because I thought it was cool," said Texanna Edwards, the senior at Tennessee's Gibson County High School in the middle of this controversy WMC-TV
"They looked at me and said, 'You can't go in because your dress is offensive and might start something,'" the 18-year-old told WREG
"We asked why they thought that, but they kept saying the same thing over and over," Edwards said, the Tennessean
reports."We kept asking people walking inside -- black and white -- and everyone said they loved it. Two black women even went off on the principal. They were upset with the principal. No one was upset with me."
Warned two months ago
School officials, however, said a teacher warned Edwards two months ago that the dress might be problematic. The teacher, who served as prom sponsor, suggested to Edwards in February that she should clear the idea with the principal, but Edwards did not do so.
“I didn’t talk with administration because we wore rebel flags all through my four years at Gibson County,” she said. “I didn’t ask for approval because I didn’t think I needed to. I had one teacher tell me it was a bad idea. but I just thought she only said that because it would offend people. But I asked a bunch of people before I had the dress made and they all loved the idea.”
School officials then offered her an alternative. Edwards could still attend the dance if she changed clothes, but she said no.
Kim Lee, Edwards’ mother, said about $500 was spent on her hair, makeup, the dress and her date’s apparel, according to the Tennessean.
Past race-related issues
Race-related issues have occurred at Gibson County High School in recent years, Eddie Pruett, director of schools for the Gibson County School System said, and Principal James Hughes thought Edwards’ dress could have caused a problem.
"She was told because of the dress and what it would look like, it would be considered inappropriate,” Pruett said, Fox
reports. "She had talked with the prom sponsor and they told her it would be inappropriate. ... I feel like Hughes followed legal precedents set by other court cases. Students have legal rights, and we don’t infringe upon those.
“I hate that the girl was not able to attend prom, and this is an unfortunate incident,” Pruett said. “But as a school district, we have to look out for the best interest for all students. You have to try to do what’s best for every child. Because of past incidents, Mr. Hughes felt that by admitting that dress it could cause a problem that night, or it could continue on throughout the school year.”
"I think student got just what she wanted, attention" Dianne Staffoed Bond said. "Shame on her parents for letting her wear that to the school after she had been warned it would be inappropriate."
wrote on Facebook that, "Our lives and privileges are being taken away from us . I see nothing wrong with the dress, Its Red, White and Blue, The colors of the freest country in the world."
"This country is not free anymore." Janet Roden Sims from Dyer, Tennessee agreed. "They are telling us everything to do. I like the dress and don't see anything wrong with it. If i had the money, i would rent a building and have another prom for them and she could wear the dress to it."
"My great-great-grandfather fought for four years under those colors to establish the Confederate States of America as a separate nation dedicated to the practice of black chattel slavery," said Malcolm Pearson from Medina, Tennessee. "After a murderous and bloody war, white supremacy prevailed in the South until the 1960s. The CSA battle flag was a symbol of that social system."
He added: "Many young people are not familiar with the reality of either the war or the oppression that followed for a century afterward. They seem to consider the flag represents a regional pride in contemporary Southern identity, and the wearing of the flag has a sort of innocence to it. The young lady's dress was lovely, but even if unintended it represents a shameful historical reality that may mean something very different to a black student than to a white student. The school administration made the right decision."