2023 Man of the Year: Jaiden Rodriguez

Jaiden Rodriguez (Mountain State Legal Foundation/Twitter)
December 28, 2023

Seventh grade is hard enough without having to deal with bullies. Especially when those bullies are your teachers.

But Jaiden Rodriguez has handled it like a champ.

The 12-year-old Colorado Springs student stood his ground after administrators at The Vanguard School suspended him for three days for sporting a Gadsden flag patch on his backpack. Administrators claimed the iconic flag, which features a rattlesnake against a yellow backdrop and the slogan "Don’t Tread on Me," was linked to "slavery and the slave trade."

The Gadsden Flag (Wikimedia commons)

Maybe they should read a book instead of propaganda from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Continental soldier Christopher Gadsden designed the flag in 1775 as a warning to the British against trampling the rights of their American subjects.

The Brits learned their lesson the hard way. So did Rodriguez’s teachers.

Rodriguez’s mother posted a video of her son’s meeting with school officials—the one where they suggested the pre-teen supports slavery. The ensuing outrage forced the school to reinstate Rodriguez and allow him to wear his beloved patch.

"I fly it because I am proud to be an American," Rodriguez said. "I don’t hate America. I’m a patriot of our country."

The family sued the school for infringing on Rodriguez’s First Amendment rights. Even Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, slammed the school and rushed to Rodriguez’s defense.

It takes real guts nowadays to stand up for America, especially when you’re 12 years old and the America-haters are your teachers. But Jaiden Rodriguez did just that, and for this, he is a Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.