A Perth public school has banned students from bringing flags - including the Australian flag - to class because of concerns they could inflame tensions between different nationalities.
Morley Senior High School students were warned before the school's official photo day yesterday they should not bring flags to school to use as costume props, because of a complaint about a flag appearing in a previous yearbook photo. As part of photo day at Morley, Year 12s put on fancy dress to pretend they are taking part in "muck-up day", which usually occurs on the final day of the school year.
School council chairman Jack Garber said it seemed to have become a tradition for Year 12s to include "disrespectful displays of flags" in their muck-up day pictures.
"Someone found that their flag was, in one of our yearbook photos, displayed offensively," he said.
He could not remember which ethnic group complained or why they found the flag's depiction offensive.
Mr Garber said the council passed a resolution late last year that flags of any nation - including Australia's - were not to be a part of muck-up dress.
"Everyone was concerned that one faction might, for example, bring a flag of Serbia, and it would be offensive to Croatians. To avoid any conflicts, students were asked not to bring flags at all."
Mr Garber said that the school had students from 75 different countries, including Australia.
"It's definitely a rainbow school," he said. "And what you don't want is someone to feel that one student from another nation that had a dispute in another continent is going to bring that on to our continent."
"We don't want any fights on the campus . . . and all of a sudden our school is in the middle of some conflict that doesn't mean anything on this soil."
Morley principal Gay Fortune said that in previous years, photos were taken of students which featured them using flags as costume props that were considered inappropriate in that context.
"Students were asked this week not to bring in flags of any nationality for photos as it was not appropriate to use them as costume props ," she said.
Ms Fortune said when she saw that students had not followed instructions yesterday she decided to postpone the photo.
A parent said it was a "ludicrous" example of political correctness that denied students their freedom of expression.