Calif: Catholic School Forbids 13-Year-Old Student From Delivering ‘Patriotic’ Speech

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OAN’s Brooke Mallory
3:56 PM – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The principal of a Catholic middle school in California “completely humiliated” a student by preventing him from giving his long-prepared speech on patriotism. She also later called the police to report the student’s father’s tame confrontation with her.


The 13-year-old student, Jimmy Heyward, was running for the student government position of “Commissioner of School Spirit and Patriotism.”

Heyward attends Saint Bonaventure Catholic School in Huntington Beach, California, and his mother says that he spent hours crafting his speech.

“My love for America is my motivation for running,” Heyward said. “It is an honor to live in this country.”

Hattie Ruggles, the student’s mother, stated in a petition that principal Mary Flock informed Jimmy that he must remove “everything about patriotism” from the speech, “even though ‘patriotism’ was a part of the position’s title that he was running for.”

Jimmy’s speech calls on students to honor military service members, the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and other traditional symbols of American patriotism.

In his address, Jimmy even expressed his desire to “coordinate with Ms. Flock” in order to plan commemoration events for “Japanese-Americans from internment camps, Holocaust survivors, and more.”

“Jimmy stood up to her and said he wasn’t going to take the parts about patriotism out of his speech,” Ruggles wrote, calling for the principal’s termination. “She then told him he would not be speaking. Jimmy sat on stage with all the other candidates while they said their speeches.”

“Mary Flock directed the kids hosting the rally to skip Jimmy entirely. He was on the stage for an hour in front of his peers/teachers/parents being completely humiliated by Mary Flock,” the mother added.

Following his son’s exclusion from the other students giving their speeches, Ed Heyward, Jimmy’s father, took a stand and addressed both principal Flock and vice principal Caleb McFerran.

Jimmy’s parents claimed that the administrators prevented him from speaking because “his views didn’t align with theirs.”

However, Flock did not take long to call the Huntington Beach Police Department to the school in order to remove the parent from the premises.

Meanwhile, when officers finally arrived, they spoke with Jimmy’s father and said he was “free to stay and watch with the rest of the families in attendance,” Ruggles noted in her petition. 

“When the officers were leaving, they asked Ed to let Jimmy know that they said ‘Thank you’ for the things he wrote in his speech,” she continued.

Ruggles also explained that Flock later sent an email home to SBS parents that day, “completely lying about what truly happened earlier in the day.”

“This incident reminds us of the importance of maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment within our school community,” Flock’s email stated at one point.

In a statement to Fox News, the Catholic school doubled down by reaffirming its choice to ignore Jimmy and not allow him to take part in the student candidate addresses.

“St. Bonaventure Catholic School is dedicated to fostering a Catholic, Christ-centered learning environment that builds a community valuing respect and integrity. We encourage freedom of speech, recognizing that allowing students to express their thoughts and ideas is crucial for their growth and development. In line with this, our longstanding policy requires all student speeches delivered on campus to undergo an administrative approval process. This practice ensures that the content is appropriate, aligns with school values and our Christian Code of Conduct, and maintains a respectful tone. The process is applied uniformly to all students without exception. If a speech does not receive final approval, we adhere to our established guidelines, which means the student will not be permitted to deliver the speech. In this recent case, school administrators felt encouraged by the words of patriotism but were discouraged by what is perceived as some negative comments and sought adjustments to make it more positive. We understand the disappointment the recent situation may have caused. However, to preserve the integrity of St. Bonaventure School’s practices and its Christ-centered learning environment, we stand by our decision and our policies. We remain committed to maintaining a consistent and fair approach for all students.”

The petition to remove Mary Flock as principal can be found here.

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