In the latest of a series of right-wing backlash against the LGBTQ+ community of California, two school boards have banned the flying of Pride flags on public school campuses.
Both Temecula Valley Unified School District and Sunol Glen Unified School District were pressured by conservative parents after outrage over the flag’s inclusion alongside military and government flags.
Although neither school’s policy addresses Pride flags directly, the LGBTQ+ flag was the central topic at both board meetings.
Temecula Valley: No Other Flags On Display
Temecula’s new rule states, “No flag other than the United States of America and State of California may be displayed on school grounds, including classrooms, unless it is a country, state, or United States military flag used solely for educational purposes within the adopted curriculum.”
The policy further requires that all schools seek permission before flying or displaying any other flag and that such flag will be accepted “if, and only if, it is used for educational purposes and only during the related instructional period.”
Sunol Glen Adapts The Same
Sunol’s resolution was in a similar vein. Adopted on the 12th of September 2023, the school board’s policy resolved to display only the flag of the United States and the California state flag on their school properties.
Understanding The Pride Flag
So, what is the Pride flag exactly, and why are parents so upset? Originally designed by Gilbert Baker in 1976, the Pride flag has seen many evolutions over the years.
The one constant is the flag’s rainbow motif, now easily recognized by most regardless of sexuality.
It is intended to represent freedom and inclusion, but some parents felt it put them in an awkward position with their children.
Parents Expressed Concern Over Flag’s Presence
“Do you know how children work? When they see something, they become curious,” one mother said during the Temecula school district meeting, “When they become curious, they want to try it out.”
Another raged against the LGBTQ+ flag’s presence due to their own overall disdain for the community.
“It makes me so upset, and that is the reason why I’m up here,” another woman spoke out, “That I have to go to my child’s school and see a rainbow flag hung on a wall. We don’t need to know what your personal sexual preference is.”
The District Had A Controversial Resolution On LGBTQ+
Others see this as yet another attack coming out of Temecula.
According to ABC, just last month, the school board passed a resolution that forced schools to inform parents if their child requests any transgender accommodation—essentially “outing” those students against their will.
Another Anti-LGBTQ Legislation?
The banning of the Pride flag feels like more anti-LGBTQ legislation to members of the community.
“Pride flag represents inclusivity, not sex, you weirdos,” one woman said in disbelief during the meeting.
A Navy veteran chastised the school board, saying, “Taking down a Pride flag is telling people they’re not wanted. How un-American is that? You’re telling them, ‘Go into the closet. Be quiet. We don’t want to see you. We don’t want to acknowledge you’.”
A Heated School Board Meeting At Sunol
Over in Sunol, the board meeting grew hostile as those in favor of the ban and those opposed clashed. Folks stood and talked over each other; some yelled at one another.
ABC reported that at one point, the district’s superintendent, Molleen Barnes, and the president of the board, Ryan Jurgensen, got into an argument in front of the crowd.
Jurgensen proposed the ban initially, stating that he is pro-equality, “but my concern is when a school starts endorsing any particular view that can be divisive.”
District Superintendent Wanted Equality And Inclusivity
Barnes explained that the school chose to fly the “inclusivity flag so that the students from the LGBTQ+ community themselves and/or their family members would know that we are a place of equity and inclusivity.”
Barnes also entered the meeting wrapped in the progressive Pride flag, a version of the flag with additional colors to represent people of color and the transgender community.
More shouting ensued until, eventually, the meeting devolved into chaos, at which point security stepped in and shut it down.
How It Ended
Ultimately, the resolution passed in both districts.
“I don’t agree with the lifestyle,” one grateful Castro Valley resident, Manny Morales, told ABC. “But at the same time, I don’t agree [with] having it in the schools and being pushed down everybody’s throat.”
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This article was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.