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OR school board votes to ban political flags, apparel, including LGTBQ+ Pride and Black Lives Matter

Posted at 11:40 AM, Aug 12, 2021

A school board in Oregon has voted to enact a broad ban on "political" signs, flags and clothing in its buildings — including materials in support of LGBTQ+ Pride and Black Lives Matter.

The board for the public school district in Newburg, Oregon — a town located about a half-hour southwest of Portland — voted 4-3 in favor of the ban during a lengthy meeting on Tuesday.

According to NBC News, the board will determine later what they consider to be "political," but Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ messaging were mentioned frequently during the meeting.

NBC also reports that Superintendent Joe Morelock said that the district's lawyers would need to review the new law before it's formally put in place.

School board director and vice-chair Brian Shannon was among those who voted in favor of the measure.

"The main goal of this is to get political symbols and divisive symbols out of our schools so we can focus on the already difficult task of educating our students in the core subjects," Shannon said, according to KGW-TV in Portland.

Board director Brandy Penner was among the members who voted against the new rule.

"This feels so anti-everything," Penner said, according to KGW. "Anti-free speech, anti-free expression, anti-safety."

Thursday's vote goes against recent state efforts instituted to support both Black students and LGBTQ+ students in the state. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), the state Board of Education voted to stand with Black Lives Matter last October. Earlier that year, the state released a success plan to ensure that students could feel comfortable in the classroom, no matter their sexual identity.

OPB also reports that Newburg School District is also considering rescinding the state's Every Student Belongs policy at a future meeting.

That policy protects students, employees and visitors "from discrimination, harassment, and intimidation" based on their "race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin." Should the district rescind those rules, the school would reportedly be in violation of state standards.