Parents are throwing a fit over a flag meant to celebrate inclusivity.
Last week, an Auburn High School classroom in Alabama put an LGBT pride flag on display made by members of a school club. Now, hundreds of people have signed a petition to have it torn down.
The online petition compares the pride flag to a Confederate flag due to its “political” nature.
“Flying of the Pride Flag can create a hostile and uncomfortable learning environment for students who come from families that do not support the LGBTQ+ community,” the petition stated. “Subjecting or explicitly exposing students from diverse political backgrounds to political views differing from theirs can make students uncomfortable and distract them from learning the material assigned to them, preventing them from reaching their full potential."
The petition also claims this brings attention and alienates students with “unpopular political and/or religious views” which “further deteriorat(es) the classroom and learning environment.”
“[We] 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. There would likely be protests, emails from teachers, and threatening of lawsuits from parents with differing viewpoints.”
“[We] ask that the Pride Flag be removed from Auburn High School in order to preserve a welcoming, beneficial, and unbiased learning environment for students from all political backgrounds attending Auburn High School.”
But there are two sides to this decision, and the opposing side — led by student Brandon Sinniger — has created a rival petition to combat the removal of the rainbow flag.
“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,” it said. “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.”
“[We] not only refute the points of the original complaint, but stand by [the teacher]’s decision and right to display the pride flag, especially as the sponsor of the AHS Educate club.”
Auburn City Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen DeLano released a statement on the pride flag and rivalling petitions, stating that as of noon that day she was not given the petition and that the issue would be handled internally.
“It is our mission to ensure each student embraces and achieves his or her unique intellectual gifts and personal aspirations while advancing the community through a school system distinguished by compassion for others, symbiotic relationships with an engaged community, the creation and sharing of knowledge, inspired learners with global perspectives and the courage to determine our future,” the statement read. “In our country today, people are often seen addressing their objections through violence and hate. It is my sincere desire to assist our students in learning to address their opinions and their values in a calm and respectful manner.”
As of Tuesday morning, the pride flag still stands in the classroom, Sinniger told Alabama news station WRBL.
“Obviously, the administration and my community have sent a pretty clear message that the flag is going to stay exactly where it is,” he said. “I hope it stays exactly where it is. I have talked personally with the signer of the original petition, but basically, this is where we stand right now, and unless something drastic happens, which I doubt, but the flag is going to stay up, and I’m glad that it is.”