Skyridge High students petition to have Pride flags restored in teacher’s classroom

A petition by students of Skyridge High School in Lehi, Utah is working to replace Pride flags that were forced to be removed after a KUTV News story by Brian Mullahy brought attention to them, saying a “parent” was upset the flags were in the classroom.

A photo of a student was posted on the school’s Instagram account alongside her teacher in celebration of the student’s academic achievement. The photo was later replaced with the flag cropped out of the frame. The image shows nine other flags hanging over a whiteboard in the classroom, representing specific sexual identities or orientations. The post has since been removed.

KUTV reported that a man claiming to be a parent of a child in the school complained to then, claiming that Pride flags are a political agenda and inappropriate for a classroom environment.

“I would be just as offended if a teacher had a ‘Make America Great Again’ Flag in their classroom,” the man told Mullahy. “A classroom is not the place.”

An unnamed spokesman for the Alpine School District, directed the news station to district policy 6161 on selection and adoption of instructional materials. They said that the flags could fall under the labels of “incidental” or “instructional” materials in the policy.

Incidental materials are defined as “pictures, quotations, video clips, and other materials intended to be used as part of a single unit during classroom instruction. Incidental materials include classroom libraries.” (Emphasis added)

Instructional materials is defined as “information, regardless of format, which is used either as or in place of textbooks to deliver instruction to students within the state curriculum framework or to support a student’s learning in the school setting. It may include reading materials, handouts, videos, digital materials, websites, online applications, and live presentations.”

The policy on incidental materials states, “classrooms are not public forums for the display or promotion of political, religious, or personal viewpoints, and employees may not use them for such purposes.” It also states, “An administrator may not remove photos, decorations or other personal items from a teacher’s desktop or immediate surrounding area as long as the item(s) do not disrupt the learning process.”

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District said that an investigation is underway and appropriate action will be taken.

The student petition says the teacher was “forced by the school to take down all pride flags and pride associated material in her classroom.”

“Not only were these pride flags something that was not harming anyone, it represents inclusion and love of everyone,” petition author Olivia Brown wrote. “As a student of this teacher, walking into her classroom for the first time and seeing that pride flag made me feel safe.”

“Signing this petition will hopefully get the attention of Skyridge High school and get the pride flags back up in the teachers classroom. It will hopefully provide proof that the pride flags are something that mean a lot to both lgbtq+ students and all students in general,” the petition ended.

Sue Robbins of Equality Utah defended the use of Pride Flags in classrooms, stating that they create a welcoming environment for students and help with the learning process.

“We want to have Pride Flags in classrooms, so kids do not feel isolated,” she said.

A parent of two straight students at the high school said she “has no problem with a Pride flag hanging in a teacher’s room. That flag represents a way of communicating to our LGBTQ+ students that they are seen and have a place.”

“Last week when all of this happened, I was helping chaperone a group of film students from Skyridge competing at a national competition. One of those students who identifies as LGBTQ was so upset to learn that the teacher, who is also the Gay-Straight Student Alliance advisor, had to take her flag down,” Lisa Aiken McArthur posted on Facebook. “These students already feel on the outside of our society and community. We have a duty to do more to help them feel included, empowered, and resilient. Allowing a group of a few parents to dictate what is and isn’t acceptable is not who we are as a democracy. Moreover, mistreating and demeaning vulnerable groups in our society is not Christlike and violates ‘love thy neighbor’ and ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ You can love and support others in their choices and lifestyle and still hold to personal values. They are not mutually exclusive.”

As this story went live, 1,845 signatures were gathered on the petition.

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