An Oregon school district on Tuesday, Aug. 10, reached a vote to stop BLM, pride, and other political materials from school campuses, including signs, flags, symbols, apparel, and more.
The decision was made to provide a less divisive environment at school, said Newberg school board director and vice-chair Brian Shannon, who supported it.
“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.
Although there were opposing views, the board eventually reached a 4-3 vote in favor of the banning. Aside from the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ flags, the school board would further prohibit other symbols that they determine to be political.
Other district lawyers would have to be involved in gauging the legalities of the ban.
“I won’t be able to enforce it as it is until we’ve gone through a bunch of legal reviews,” said Superintendent Joe Morelock, who would meet up with the attorneys.
KGW noted that the board reached their decision despite calls for a postponement to hear more from staff and students.
“The quality of some of the stories that we heard should count more than just the number of emails that we received,” said Board member Ines Peña, sporting a Black Lives Matter shirt and rainbow headband during the virtual meeting.
“And I feel like that’s not being heard. The students are not being heard,” she added.
If enacted, the ban would apply to approximately 5,000 students who attend schools in Newberg.
Supporters of the ban said the symbols were divisive and did not necessarily make students feel safer.
Opponents of the ban argued the BLM and pride materials were symbols of love and support.
“When these students enter our schools and see the symbols that we mean to communicate love and support and affirmation, they don’t see propaganda or indoctrination or any ideology,” said Joshua Reid, a Newberg schools counselor. “They see a glimmer of hope that there can still be safe places and safe people in their schools.”
Board chair Dave Brown, who said he was not racist and supported the move, alleged all students must be accounted for.
“It still goes back to the fact that we have a lot of kids that are impacted by this positively or negatively,” Brown said. “As a school board, it’s our job to make decisions that are going to be there for every single kid at Newberg High School, not just the kids that are represented in just one group—it has to be all kids.”
The board would also re-evaluate the Oregon Department of Education’s “Every Student Belongs policy.” Drafted by students and bipartisan, the legislation attempts to establish a safe and inclusive school climate by prohibiting hate symbols such as the swastika, confederate flag, and noose, the outlet provided.
In the next meeting, the board would continue their discussion over the ban, and the Every Student Belongs bill, together with proposals to challenge the state’s mask mandate.