“The recently recognized Traditional Values Club has won the right to hang its organization’s flag in the stairwell of Howell High School next to the Diversity Club’s rainbow-colored flag, which some say represents gay pride. The Traditional Values Club flag is red, white and blue, symbolizing patriotism, and it features a red ‘t’ which stands for traditional values. The lowercase ‘t’ also resembles a cross, representative of the Christian faith. …’It’s a Christian flag obviously, and I’m thrilled the club decided on having a Christian emblem to represent them,’ (Livingston Organization for Values in Education spokesperson Vicki) Fyke said.”
March 30, 2006
Conservative flag will hang in Howell High School
It can be placed next to the Diversity Club’s rainbow banner, which sparked controversy.
by Valerie Olander / The Detroit News
The recently recognized Traditional Values Club has won the right to hang its organization’s flag in the stairwell of Howell High School next to the Diversity Club’s rainbow-colored flag, which some say represents gay pride.
The Traditional Values Club flag is red, white and blue, symbolizing patriotism, and it features a red “t,” which stands for traditional values. The lowercase “t” also resembles a cross, representative of the Christian faith.
Last year, the district was embroiled in controversy after the diversity flag was raised. Students painted the rock in front of the school with anti-gay slurs. In response, other students supporting the Diversity Club then painted the word “Love” over the hate messages as well as spraying the word “Love” more than 25 times on sidewalks and around the school flag pole.
Four students were found responsible caught for painting the “Love” messages and suspended, which prompted ignited hundreds of students to hold a sit-down demonstration in protest.
The Traditional Values flag has yet to be raised in the school, according to Assistant Principal Michael Mulligan, who referred all questions to Principal Marge Hamill. Hamill did not return phone calls from The Detroit News.
The Traditional Values club’s chairman, Andrew Cureton, senior class vice president and National Merit Scholarship finalist, applauded the school administration for its their decision to hang the flag.
“We asked to hang this flag to promote equality and acceptance of conservatives within our school,” he stated in a release.
Cureton has been ill for two days and was unable to comment further, said his mother, Dianne Cureton.
“I don’t think it will cause any issues. (Principal) Hamill said she’d hang it, so I don’t think she expects it to be an issue, either,” she said.
Last month, the student club was officially recognized by the school after a year-long search for a teacher moderator. A moderator is needed to be recognized.
Dottie Wright, a life management teacher at Howell High School, volunteered to sponsor the club.
The student group had sought the aide of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education (LOVE) to write its constitution and bylaws while searching for a teacher moderator, said Vicki Fyke, an organizer of the group.
The LOVE group formed in late 2004 to voice opposition to the rainbow diversity flag and more recently formed a Political Action Committee to endorse candidates in the May 2 school board election.
“It’s a Christian flag obviously and I’m thrilled the club decided on having a Christian emblem to represent them,” Fyke said.
“I don’t think there’ll be any more controversy with this flag than the other one. Maybe, it will take away what was dividing (the students). It might be calming thing,” she said.
School Board President Susan L. Drazic said she was aware the Traditional Values Club became an official teacher-sponsored group last month, but did not know about its flag.
“I don’t feel I can make any comment because I haven’t seen it,” she said.
The district has a diversity resolution dating to December 2003 recognizing the “rich advantages of diversity in the school environment.” As with the rainbow-colored flag, it is up to the school principal to decide what flag or flags are displayed in the school, Drazic said.
When the diversity flag ignited tension, the school board supported the students right to display the banner.