A new controversial flag policy for the Temecula Valley Unified School District passed with a 3-2 vote during Tuesday night’s meeting.
School officials discussed whether certain flags should be limited for display, which some critics believe will be used to censor LGBTQ+ support.
Following the policy’s approval, only state and U.S. flags can be displayed at schools. All other flags would require the superintendent’s approval.
The school board president placed the policy on Tuesday night’s agenda. A large showing of parents, teachers, students and community members gathered at the meeting as tensions flared at times.
“This rainbow flag is infiltrating every corner of education and we need to talk about that,” a supporter of the policy said.
No text in the policy specifically mentions Pride flags on school campuses, however, members of the LGBTQ+ community believe the ban is being aimed at preventing Pride flags from being flown.
“Taking down a Pride flag is telling people they’re not wanted,” said a policy opposer.
If a flag is approved to be displayed, it would only be allowed for a limited time and must be used for educational purposes only.
Members who supported the policy told KTLA they believed Pride flags, or any other types of flags, should not be flown on school campuses.
“We’re seeing a lot of activism in the classrooms,” said Milana Cubana, a supporter of the flag policy. “We’re seeing BLM flags, Pride flags, trans flags and we’re not anti-LGBTQ, we’re not anti-anything but a classroom is not a place for your personal political beliefs.”
Opposers, however, are concerned over issues of censorship and lack of inclusivity in the classroom curriculum.
“When my children and I see LGBTQ flags and Pride flags, we all know that we’re going to be accepted there,” said, Ashley Williamson, who opposes the policy. “We know that we’re not going to be berated for what we believe in or how we look or how we act or the people who we are in relationships with.”
“It’s officially Transgender History Month in August,” said Love Bailey, a critic of the policy. “How will you teach that to the kids unless you display a trans flag? How, unless we embrace diversity, are we going to give our kids a good education moving forward?”
The proposed policy’s text says in part:
“No flag other than the United States of America and state of California may be displayed on school grounds, including classrooms, unless it is a country, state or United States military flag used solely for educational purposes within the adopted curriculum. Any other flag must be approved by the Superintendent or designee prior to displaying if, and only if, it is used for educational purposes and only during the related instructional period.”
Previously, the Temecula Valley Unified School District had come under fire for previously rejecting a state-approved social studies book and curriculum over the inclusion of gay rights leader Harvey Milk and coverage of LGBTQ+ figures in history.
The move prompted backlash from local leaders including Gov. Gavin Newsom who promised a $1.5 million fine as failure to adopt the curriculum was a violation of state law. The school board later voted to approve the curriculum, avoiding the fine.
According to the governor’s office, the board’s actions are still being investigated by the California Department of Education, including an inquiry into the district by the California Department of Justice related to civil rights violations.
Tuesday night’s meeting began at 6 p.m. where a final vote on whether to approve the policy is expected. Chairs for attendees were placed outside the district building in anticipation of an influx of attendees.