A county judge in Oregon ruled a school district’s ban on LGBT Pride and Black Lives Matter flags is unconstitutional.
In a Sept. 22 decision, Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Easterday ruled the Newberg School District’s policy of banning employees from displaying “controversial” or “political” signs and symbols violated Article 1, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and press.
In December of 2021, the ACLU of Oregon challenged the school district’s policy on behalf of employee Chelsea Shotts, who had placed a sign depicting a rainbow flag with a heart superimposed and the words “Be Known” in a classroom window at Dundee Elementary. Shotts, an educator who identifies as queer, said the sign was meant to designate a safe space for students. Nevertheless, it drew a complaint which eventually led to the school board’s decision to remove all LGBT and Black Lives Matter signs and symbols.
U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s first congressional district, agreed with the court’s ruling, tweeting, “Students and educators should feel welcome and respected in the classroom. It was wrong for the Newberg School Board to ban Black Lives Matter & LGBTQ pride symbols in schools and as the judge ruled, it is unconstitutional.”