RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – A controversial photo showing a Pennsylvania student standing on the American flag while another makes a vulgar gesture is creating a firestorm on social media.

The photo appears to be taken in a Richland Township classroom and shows a male student standing on the flag, while a female student flips off the camera and sticks out her tongue.

The photo was posted on Facebook by a former Richland Township High School student over the weekend and has already been shared thousands of times.

The boy’s mother says he did a “stupid and impulsive thing” and that he has apologized. She issued the response through the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Richland Township Police Department released a statement about the incident:

“The Richland Township Police Department has become aware of a disrespectful picture being passed along through Facebook. We have been in contact with the Richland School District and will work with them in resolving this issue. Thank you to everyone who took time to notify us of this situation.”

Richland Township sent police to the district’s high school on Tuesday to ensure there were no problems. The ACLU’s Pennsylvania legal director says the boy’s action was protected speech, though the boy could be disciplined for vandalizing the flag if it turns out to be school property.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

The district called the photo “unfortunate and unpatriotic” and promises “appropriate legal discipline.”