GARDINER — An argument between students at Gardiner Area High School that officials said “seriously disrupted” school operations has prompted the school to adopt a temporary policy allowing only the American flag to be displayed.

The incident happened Friday, after a student put a Trump flag over a Pride flag in the school’s common area.

The Pride flag had been hanging on the wall outside of the Little Theater when a student placed the Trump flag over it during the high school’s second lunch period. This caused students to become argumentative with each other, according to school officials. 

Pat Hopkins, superintendent of Maine School Administrative District 11, said the confrontation was a “heated” verbal exchange that “seriously disrupted” school operations. Hopkins said students can engage in civil discourse, as long as “doing so does not materially disrupt school operations or infringe on the rights of other students.” 

Chad Kempton, principal of Gardiner Area High School, confirmed no one was injured, but “the incident had the potential to become much worse,” he said. School administrators responded and de-escalated the situation.

The incident prompted the school administration to meet with the district’s lawyer to come up with a temporary policy that allows the district to only display the American flag, as required by the state. 


It is unclear if the June 2 incident was in response to Pride Month, which is celebrated in June. 

“It will be appropriate going forward for the school to prohibit students and staff from displaying all flags including those bearing any political or social message on their person, or anywhere in the school building. This includes wearing a flag(s) as a cape or affixing a flag(s) in any manner to any article of their clothing and/or belongings,” Kempton said in an email to families and community members Sunday night. 

In the same statement, Kempton confirmed that the new policy does not prohibit students from “displaying political or social messages as part of their clothing.”

Staff will continue to be expected to remain neutral regarding their personal beliefs,” Kempton wrote in the email. “The display of any poster, signage or message on school walls, within the school facility or on school grounds, may only be done with the approval of a building administrator. Unauthorized items will be removed, and violations may result in disciplinary action.” 

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.