September 16th 2023.
Two California school districts have sparked controversy on September 12th by banning the display of pride flags on school premises. The Southern California city of Temecula and the Bay Area’s Sunol schools put their bans into effect, though their details differ. Temecula's ban applies to all flags that are not state or national flags, while Sunol specifically banned the rainbow pride flag.
Unsurprisingly, this action has inspired protests from Sunol residents. They have even gone so far as to recall school board members responsible for the ban. This comes shortly after a wave of conservatives unsuccessfully attempted to ban books with pro-LGBTQ content, restrict gender-affirming care to LGBTQ-identifying youth, and ban public drag performances.
The Gilbert Baker Foundation, creator of the pride flag, has reported a shocking increase in restrictions on its display. In February alone, dozens of municipalities across the U.S. had placed restrictions. Charley Beal, President of the Foundation, commented on the conservative trend: “Make no mistake; right-wing groups want to roll back LGBTQ+ rights, and they’re starting with banning the Rainbow Flag. Every month brings a new threat to LGBTQ+ rights and equality. We must remain vigilant.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also chimed in on the concerning uptick in bans of the pride flag. The group has identified the bans as unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment and constituting “viewpoint discrimination.” The ACLU wrote in a letter, “Such action, absent any evidence of substantial disruption, is contrary to the First Amendment protections afforded to students within public schools.”
The banning of pride flags in California schools has prompted much public outcry and inspired protests. Although this issue has yet to be resolved, many are hopeful that the bans will soon be overturned, and the pride flag will be allowed to fly in California schools once again.
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