ORANGE, Mass. (WWLP) - The small town of Orange was thrust into the national spotlight after a student was not allowed to hang a picture of the American Flag in the classroom. The story is now getting national attention, and on Friday, the family wanted to set the record straight on exactly why they are speaking out against the school.
On Monday, 11 year-old Frankie Girard drew a picture of the American Flag. Girard says that he could not hang the picture in his classroom at the Butterfield School, because it would offend another student.
"I just want to be able to hang my flag and be proud of who I am," Girard said. "This is America and I made an American Flag, and I can't even hang it up because of one kid in my class."
School Superintendent Paul Burnam denied 22News' request for an on-camera interview, but he told us that Girard was supposed to be doing class work when he asked to hang the picture. "The Orange Elementary Schools would certainly allow the posting of the American Flag. However, during instructional time, students are not allowed to post any artwork or other school work," Burnam said.
The controversy is causing a lot of debate around town. People told 22News that no matter what the circumstances, not allowing a student to display a drawing of the flag is wrong. "I think they should have every student draw a picture of the Flag and they should hang it throughout all the halls in the school in honor of Frankie," Robert Donnelly of Orange said.
A Facebook page dedicated to Frankie now has nearly 5,000 supporters. 22News received an e-mail from a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard who is stationed in Iraq. He said that his unit been flying a flag in Frankie's honor.
Frankie's father John Girard told 22News why they are speaking out. "What we're doing is we're just keeping one 11 year-old boy from being proud of who he is so that we don't offend anybody. We're not offended by anybody else and we're not offended by the person who would be offended. We just want the same rights for Franklin, that's all," he said.
John Girard told 22News that he is not doing this to get any money, and he does not even want to see anybody lose their job. He said that he just wants equal rights for every American.