A high school in Indiana has ordered teachers to remove Pride flags from their classrooms to “maintain viewpoint neutrality”, and students have slammed the decision.
The principal of Pendleton Heights High School, Connie Rickert, ordered three teachers to remove Pride flags from their classrooms, local newspaper The Herald Bulletin reported.
“Teachers are legally obligated to maintain viewpoint neutrality during their official duties to ensure all students can focus on learning and we can maintain educational activities and school operations,” she stated. “Our counselors are trained to respond to any student who desires support.”
Despite outrage from students, other senior staff also issued statements about the ban, with one comparing the Pride flag to a white supremacy flag. One student slammed the comparison, telling The Indianapolis Star: “One is about inclusiveness and the other is about hate.”
The president of the board of trustees for the local district wrote in an email to parents: “The issue with displaying the flag in a school is a double-edged sword.
“If an LGBTQ+ flag is allowed to be displayed, then any other group would have the same ability. That could include such flags as supporting white supremacy, which is in direct conflict with LGBTQ+. I hope we can model equality and support through our actions.”
Student Bryce Axel-Adams started an online petition, calling for the school board to officially allow Pride flags in classrooms. At the time of writing, it has more than 3,500 signatures.
Bryce wrote: “Having a pride flag is one of the clearest ways to say, ‘I support you, and I’m here for you. You are loved.’
“That is so important for LGBTQ+ youth, we have always been told that teachers will always be there for us, and being able to easily identify teachers we can safely go to is extremely important to our mental health.”
Bryce later added that they had received an update from the school administrators saying they had changed their stance, and weren’t banning the flags because they are “political speech”, but to
“avoid a discrimination lawsuit”.
The petition received a number of heart-warming responses from teachers in other districts, Pendleton alumni and other students.