A school district in Utah has banned Pride flags from classrooms, claiming that they are as “politically charged” as “Make America Great Again” flags.
Davis School District also banned the display of Black Lives Matter flags in order to remain “neutral,” district spokesman Chris Williams told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Williams said, “No flags fly in our schools except for the flag of the United States of America,” although he added that flags for sports teams and international countries would be allowed.
The district argues that the ban is part of efforts to comply with Utah state law, which requires that teachers refrain from discussing their personal religious or political views. However, it does not explicitly prohibit the displaying of flags.
In an email to teachers and administrators earlier this month, the district said that the ban on flags also extended to other decorations, including Pride pins, adding, “It does not matter what we have done in the past.”
Davis School District has taken a harder stance against Pride flags than other districts in the state, with the Utah Board of Education noting that each district is free to set their own policy on flags, except with regards the American flag.
“There is nothing in code that specifically defines a rainbow flag as a political statement so it would be up to district or charter school policies to make that determination,” a board spokesman told KUTV.
Related: Gay Missouri teacher resigns after being told to remove Pride flag from classroom
Williams argued that the decision to ban Pride flags and Black Lives Matter flags was “surely not something that slights anyone.”
“We have to be welcoming to every student that walks in the class,” he said. “We cannot set up a situation where students walk in feel attacked or uncomfortable.”
LGBTQ advocates have argued that removing Pride flags not only prevents teachers from showing students that their classrooms are safe spaces, but further marginalizes LGBTQ students who might benefit from seeing their identity valued and respected.
“These people who want to remove the flag, they don’t understand what it means to us,” Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family and education at the Utah Pride Center, told the Tribune. “That flag represents love and acceptance.”
In a statement, the ACLU of Utah said, “Whether or not a school district has the legal ability to ban inclusive and supportive symbols from classrooms, it is bad policy for them to do so.
“Utah schools have an obligation to ensure that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identify, feel welcome inside a classroom. We urge school administrators and teachers to adopt policies that make all students feel safe and included.”
Related: Georgia student assaulted, dragged across floor for wearing LGBTQ Pride flag
Davis School District’s decision contrasts with others in the state. Nicole Palmer, principal of Rose Park Elementary, told the Tribune that she had her district’s full support to fly Pride and BLM flags in the school’s atrium.
Palmer said the flags are intended to be “comforting and reassuring and validating. I want students to see that they are wanted here and seen here for who they are — every part of who they are.”
While the school had received threatening calls and emails for displaying the flags, aided by publicity from outraged conservative activist Eric Moutsos, Salt Lake City School District stood behind Palmer’s decision.
The district’s superintendent emailed parents telling them that the flags were not a “political statement” and said they were intended to “bolster ALL students and specifically prohibit discrimination.”
“The flags show our students and families we love them and want them to succeed,” the superintendent said. “That’s a goal I hope the entire community can support.”
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A gay California lawmaker has joined Grindr to encourage users to vote against recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in the upcoming Sept. 14 election.
Last Tuesday, State Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) said he joined the popular gay dating app in an effort to urge Grindr users not to recall Newsom, a longtime LGBTQ ally.
Newsom has faced criticism from conservatives for his management of the state, particularly his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — including shutdowns, mask mandates, and other restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus and its variants.
A Black high school student in Tennessee has accused his school of calling police after he stood up for a Black trans classmate who was being bullied.
TikTok user @willim4606 posted a video from an office at Fulton High School in Knoxville, claiming that an administrator had locked him inside, LGBTQ Nation reports.
In the video, which has had almost 700,000 views at the time of writing, Willum shows an officer standing outside the door and alleges that he was being suspended while the bullies had escaped punishment.
“I’m being suspended right now at Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tennessee because I stuck up for a trans woman,” Willum says in the video. “I stuck up for a trans woman, and she has the freaking police outside.”
A group of Russian paratroopers put on a shocking, homophobic performance depicting a gay man being crushed to death under a concrete block at a public event in Yaroslavl last week.
The performance took place at an August 29 show at the Dobrynin Palace of Culture, as part of an anniversary celebration for a local patriotic military club. The performance was supposed to entail cadets in camouflage fatigues showing off their martial arts skills.
As the unsuspecting audience watched, the cadets hoisted a shirtless man above their heads and placed a concrete block with the inscription “death to f****ts” on his stomach. Then, one of the other performers smashed the symbolic object with what appeared to be a sledgehammer, Radio Free Europe reports.
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