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Washington middle school bars ‘Thin Blue Line’ police flags as ‘political,’ but allows LGBT Pride, BLM flags

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A high school in Washington state has barred the display of flags and banners supportive of police because they have been deemed to be “political” statements, but officials have permitted the display of LGBTQ Pride and Black Lives Matter messages, according to a report by  Jason Rantz. 

A teacher who put up a pro-police flag was ordered to take it down because it was called a “political symbol,” according to the teacher’s brother.

“They told her that it’s controversial to have that flag up. That it makes kids and staff feel unsafe, which to me, that does not make sense at all,” Chris Sutherland said in an interview with “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH in describing what happened.

A former police officer with the Marysville, Wash., Police Department, Sutherland said his sister hung a “Thin Blue Line” flag in her middle school classroom to support him. In addition, his sister hung pictures of her then-police officer brother around the flag.


(Source: KTTH)

The teacher, who asked for anonymity, said that at first, an assistant principal voiced displeasure with a Thin Blue Line decal she had on her computer, Rantz reported. The official claimed there were “concerns about how students, families, and community members might interpret what the image is intending to communicate and that this interpretation may cause a disruption to the learning environment,” said Rantz after seeing a human resources document detailing the incident.

But the objections were apparently tabled, at least for a time, and the teacher then put up the Thin Blue Line flag in her classroom.

However, a second school assistant principal ordered the teacher to take down the flag, while a human resources official noted in a Letter of Clarification to the teacher that the school district was “highly concerned about the impact of this political symbol on students, staff, and families of Marysville Middle School.”

In addition, the letter came with a warning.

The teacher was told she must “refrain from using the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ symbol” in the school or she could potentially face “further disciplinary action.” But as Sutherland noted to Rantz, the school permits the display of Pride and BLM flags, which to many people are overtly political in nature.

“There’s also, she was telling me, BLM stuff hanging on walls, which she was told is okay. Just for whatever reason, just the Thin Blue Line flag cannot be hung up there,” Sutherland, who was a school resource officer during a fatal shooting in 2014 at the Marysville Pilchuck High School, said.

Rantz reported that the same teacher also hung a Pride flag in her classroom in support of a gay relative. The talk host went on to say that the school district would not explain why BLM and Pride flags are okay but the pro-police flag isn’t.

The teacher eventually took down her flag, Rantz noted, but in a message to the HR department said that the episode “has been the most traumatic and hostile” event she has had to deal with during her tenure.

“It’s hurtful because I can hear in her voice how much it actually hurts her being told to [take down the flag],” Sutherland told Rantz. “So when [she] and I talk about it, back and forth, it’s frustrating because I know how much she cares and how much this means to her. For her to have to go through that … it’s just not fair.”

Jon Dougherty

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