School Board in Maryland Votes to Permit Pride And Black Lives Matter Flags
A county school board in Maryland has rejected a proposed flag ban that would prevent Pride and Black Lives Matter flags from being on display at schools.
Anne Arundel County School Board members voted to permit Pride, Black Lives Matter, and other flags in the classroom, CBS News reports. Parents and teachers stood outside the Anne Arundel County Board of Education Building on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, holding flags of support for and against the new policy.
“We’ve never been told how to decorate our classrooms before or how to make our students feel included before or not included, and now it appears that we are being told,” Nicole Disney-Bates, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said.
Disney-Bates organized the protest against the policy that would have allowed the United States flag to fly along with the flags representing the state and county at the schools while other flags would have to seek approval for a “bona-fide educational purpose” determined by the school’s principals.
“We feel that classrooms should be free spaces for people to express themselves and we would like to keep that going in Anne Arundel County,” Disney-Bates said.
“Flags are a symbol of community and belonging,” fifth-grade teacher Russel Leonie said in May, after the first reading of the policy. “This policy would greatly limit the educator’s ability to visually demonstrate that all of our students are welcome in our schools.”
Board members listened to arguments from both sides before issuing the 4-3 ruling against the flag ban, WBAL-TV reports. The vote followed a two-hour debate on the issue during a meeting in May.
Carry Gillispie led a group of protestors in support of the flag ban who believe anything other than U.S. and local flags would serve as a distraction to students.
“Unfortunately, other flags in the classroom divide them and are distractions to their education,” Gillespie said.
Anne Arundel County’s ruling comes one month after Michigan voted against pride flags on public property.