Two different California school districts have passed a ban on displaying pride flags to support LGBTQ individuals on September 12. The Southern California city, Temecula, and the Bay Area’s Sunol schools do not allow pride flags to be shown anywhere on the premises.
Although both bans have different details, their impacts have similarly inspired protests. Temecula’s ban includes all flags that aren’t state or national flags, while Sunol specifically banned only the rainbow pride flag. Notably, Sunol residents’ protests have escalated to recalling school board members who passed the ban. Many are drawing comparisons to the recent wave of conservatives pushing to ban books with pro-LGBTQ content, restricting gender-affirming care for LGBTQ-identifying youth, and banning public drag performances.
The creator of the pride flag, The Gilbert Baker Foundation, has identified a shocking increase in bans pertaining to its display. As of February, dozens of municipalities across the U.S. have placed restrictions.
Foundation President Charley Beal expressed, “Make no mistake; right-wing groups want to roll back LGBTQ+ rights, and they’re starting with banning the Rainbow Flag. It’s part of a huge conservative trend to censor minority rights across America.”
She continued, “Already, bans have been reversed, but every month brings a new threat to LGBTQ+ rights and equality. We must remain vigilant. Dangerous wording can be added to any unrelated bills and go to a vote tomorrow.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has chimed in on the concerning uptick in bans of the pride flag. The group has identified the bans as unconstitutional and violating the First Amendment, calling them “viewpoint discrimination.”
The ACLU wrote in a letter, “Such action, absent any evidence of substantial disruption is contrary to the First Amendment protections afforded to students within public schools…the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that First Amendment protections extend to “teachers and students,” neither of whom “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’’