OPINION | Barry Richard: Flag Controversies As Schools Are Back In Session
School districts in several southern states are dealing with flag controversies as a result of the racial divide that the media tells us is deepening in this country.
The Public School Board in Durham, North Carolina has voted to revise it's dress code to prohibit the Confederate flag, KKK symbols and swastikas. A smart move as all three are provocative and wearing those symbols to school could understandably be perceived as an effort to promote hatred and potentially violence.
The debate in Auburn, Alabama is a bit more complex. A group of parents and students who attend Auburn High School are calling for the removal of the LGBTQ rainbow flag that was hung outside a classroom by a teacher last week to bring attention to a school fair being held by the Educate Club which promotes diversity.
More than 800 people have signed a petition asking that the flag be removed;
“We believe it is unprofessional and distracting for a teacher to be so openly displaying their political views in an unbiased and socially neutral public setting. Subjecting or explicitly exposing students from diverse political backgrounds to political views differing from theirs can make students uncomfortable and distract them.”
The petitioners compare the pride flag to the Confederate flag and urge the school's principal to order it's removal;
“[T]he signers of this petition would like for you to consider the uproar and chaos that would ensue were a teacher to hang for example a Confederate, Christian, or Heterosexual Flag in their classroom.”
A counter petition is being circulated in defense of the LBGTQ flag. Some 6,690 people have already signed the counter petition;
“In the real world, to suggest individuals be isolated from differing political views is an absurdity. To be made uncomfortable by opinions differing to your own is to function as a modern human. Attempting to insulate a student from political discourse would be an insult to their intelligence.”
"The pride flag and the AHS Educate club has served to provide a healthy environment for our LGBT+ peers to feel comfortable being who they truly are. The flag represents this safe space, and frankly, the sentiment for removing the pride flag is an affront to the work that has been done nationally to fight for recognition of the community.”
School officials tell local media they are working with students to try and resolve the matter but say so far no petitions have ben presented.
The best possible scenario might be that public school districts prohibit the display of all flags that might be deemed offensive. Perhaps the U.S., state and city or town flags should be the only flags flown on public school property. What kids wear or which flags they wave off school property is a matter for them and their parents to work out.
Is the LGBTQ flag offensive to you and should it be removed?
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Information for this blog was drawn from The New York Post, WSFA-TV, FOX News and The Herald Sun of Durham