Students and parents of students at Pendleton Heights High School in Pendleton, Indiana, are asking district authorities to reconsider a ban on LGBTQ+ flags that went into effect earlier this week.
On Tuesday, three teachers were ordered to remove rainbow flags they had displayed in their classrooms because they were in violation of the school’s policy on political paraphernalia, the Herald Bulletin reports. In a statement, Connie Rickert, the school’s principal, said that “Teachers are legally obligated to maintain viewpoint neutrality during their official duties to ensure all students can focus on learning and we can maintain educational activities and school operations.”
In a follow-up email sent to students, parents, and staff, the district’s Board of Trustees president, Bill Hutton, wrote that displaying the rainbow flag was effectively a “double-edged sword.”
“If an LGBTQ+ flag is allowed to be displayed, then any other group would have the same ability,” Hutton wrote. “That could include such flags as supporting white supremacy which is in direct conflict with LGBTQ+. I hope we can model equality and support through our actions.”
Some students and parents, however, were upset by the district’s decision. Junior Bryce Axel-Adams started a petition in support of lifting the ban, which the Indianapolis Star reports had 3,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.
“We’re tired of having so little representation,” Axel-Adams, who identifies as gay, told the Star. We’re tired of having people act like our feelings don’t matter, like our mental health doesn’t matter.”
Parents and students voiced their concerns at the board meeting Thursday night. The Star reports that Hutton commended the speakers, and said that the board was willing to listen to any suggestions they might have.