A day after five Morgan Hill students were sent home for wearing American flag T-shirts, the controversy erupted ten-fold.
Dozens of students at Live Oak High School made a mass and impromptu walk out of class Thursday. They weren't protesting the ejections and instead were showing their Mexican-American pride. Many support the school's decision and say they were offended by their classmates' wardrobe choice.
Many of the students who walked out Thursday held Mexican flags as they left campus. The said they marching for respect and unity.
"My plan is to bring out the message we are also Americans and we need Americans to show our culture respect of our Hispanic background," student Mike Hernandez said.
The group walked to City Hall for a loud but calm noontime rally. They returned to school in about 90 minutes and finished the day in class.
The controversy began when Daniel Galli and his four friends were approached by the vice principal during lunch on Cinco de Mayo. He asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal's office.
"They said we could wear it on any other day," Daniel Galli said, "but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it's supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today."
The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts "incendiary" that would lead to fights on campus.
To many Mexican-American students at Live Oak, this was a big deal. They say they were offended by the five boys and others for wearing American colors on a Mexican holiday.
"I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day," Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. "We don't deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn't do that on Fourth of July."
The superintendent of the Morgan Hill Unified School District, Dr. Wesley Smith, sent out the following message about the incidents:.
"The Morgan Hill Unified School District does not prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing. The incident on May 5 at Live Oak High School is extremely unfortunate. While campus safety is our primary concern and administrators made decisions yesterday in an attempt to ensure campus safety, students should not, and will not, be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing. This situation and our response are under review.
We know that this is an emotionally charged topic. We would ask you to encourage your students to be safe and focus on their academics while in school. If conversations and/or activities are necessary to express their feelings on this issue, we will find appropriate venues that do not disturb student learning or jeopardize the safety of our students. Furthermore, we encourage everyone to demonstrate respect for each other, open communication, and responsibility."
The story has sparked an outcry from groups and individuals across the country, including a high school student in Yorktown, Va., who created a Facebook page titled "I support the 5 students from Morgan Hill high school." As of this afternoon, the group had 51 members.