A growing number of schools in several US states are now banning the display of LGBTQ + flags in their premises, calling them political and divisive.
The bans have raised concerns that many students and teachers are resigning, protesting or being suspended for expressing their views on the schools’s actions.
As the last member of the campaign, an Oregon school board voted Tuesday to ban schools from displaying Pride and Black Lives Matter (BLM) flags or symbols in classrooms.
“We don’t pay our teachers to impose their political views on our students. This is not her place, ”said Brian Shannon, a member of the Newberg school board. “Your job is to teach the approved curriculum and that is all this policy does to make sure that happens in our schools.”
A school district in Utah has also banned the display of LGBTQ pride and BLM flags, arguing that it is an attempt to keep the school “neutral” on all issues.
The Davis School District spokesman in northern Utah said the symbols were too politically charged, reported the Salt Lake Grandstand.
“So in our schools there are no flags except the flag of the United States of America,” said spokesman Chris Williams. However, he made it clear that some of the schools have flags of sports teams or international countries that have nothing to do with politics.
Similarly, the Bluffton-Harrison School District in Indiana held a discussion with the board to consider banning the “controversial” flags, Newsweek reported.
It was after a parent complained about a pride flag being displayed in the school’s classroom, saying it could be “a trigger for disciplinary issues among students”.
In September, a Missouri teacher, John M. Wallis, resigned after school administration asked him to remove the Pride rainbow flag from his classroom and prevented him from discussing sexuality or “sexual preferences” at school .
LGBTQ advocates had denounced the bans, arguing that removing pride flags from schools suggests that classrooms are no longer safe places for queer students. They say it is about feeling belonging and respected in the community and not showing political views.
“These people who are trying to remove the flag don’t understand what it means to us,” said Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family and education at the Utah Pride Center. “This flag stands for love and acceptance.”
Mary Emily O’Hara of GLAAD, a non-governmental group for LGBTQ rights, said Yahoo Life that the prohibitions are “harmful messages that recognize both youth and adults as hurtful discrimination, when the message should be that we include, protect and value the weakest among us”.
“Showing an LGBTQ pride flag is an inclusive and innocuous way of showing LGBTQ people that they are welcome and safe,” she said.