A growing number of U.S. schools are banning LGBTQ “pride” and Black Lives Matter flags; they are labeled political and divisive.
“The bans have sparked concerns with many students and teachers resigning, protesting, or being suspended for voicing their opinion on the schools’ action,” the U.K.’s Independent reported Wednesday.
Oregon voted to prohibit LGBTQ, and the Black Lives Matter flag in August included other “political” signs and clothing.
“We don’t pay our teachers to push their political views on our students. That’s not their place,” Brian Shannon, school board director and vice-chair of Newberg Public Schools, said. “Their place is to teach the approved curriculum, and that’s all this policy does, is ensure that’s happening in our schools.”
NBC News reported, Superintendent Joe Morelock said he would meet with the district’s attorneys before enforcing the policy.
“This feels so draconian … this feels so anti-everything,” board member Brandy Penner said. “Anti-free speech, anti-free expression, anti-safety.”
Board member Ines Peña, who reportedly donned a Black Lives Matter shirt and a “pride” headband during the meeting, argued students were not represented in the discussion and decision as some students and their families feel discrimination.
“The quality of some of the stories that we heard should count more than just the number of emails that we received,” said Peña. “And I feel like that’s not being heard. The students are not being heard.”
LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter flags were banned several years ago in Davis School District in Utah.
Administrators say the symbols are too “politically charged,” reported the Salt Lake Tribune.
“So, no flags fly in our schools except for the flag of the United States of America,” said district spokesman Chris Williams, adding that sports team flags are an exception to the rule.
The report noted that Natalie Cline, a member of the Utah Board of Education, recommends “identity politics do not belong in classrooms, the report noted.
However, community activists argue LGBTQ and black students need the flags to feel welcome.
“These people who want to remove the flag, they don’t understand what it means to us,” said Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family, and education at the Utah Pride Center. “That flag represents love and acceptance.”
In September, John M. Wallis, a teacher from Neosho, Missouri, resigned after his school district responded to parents’ complaints of his display of an LGBTQ “pride” flag in his classroom with instructions to remove it.
“I was then asked to sign a letter that stated I would not discuss human sexuality or my own personal sexuality in the classroom and could have no displays or coursework on those subjects,” the teacher tweeted in a thread that is no longer public. “This action was the reason for my resignation.”
Wallis, 22, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
“There is never a problem when a heterosexual teacher displays pictures of themselves and their spouses in a classroom, but I have a flag, and all hell breaks loose,” he complained, according to a report at the Springfield News-Leader.
Mary Emily O’Hara of LGBTQ activist group GLAAD told Yahoo Life that flag bans “are harmful messages that youth and adults alike recognise as hurtful discrimination, when the message should be that we include, protect and value the most vulnerable among us.”
“Displaying an LGBTQ pride flag is an inclusive and harmless way to show LGBTQ people they are welcome and safe,” O’Hara said.
But Newberg, Oregon’s school board director Shannon said the flag ban policy’s primary purpose is to “get political symbols and divisive symbols out of our schools so we can focus on the already difficult task of educating our students in the core subjects.”