Anne Arundel County Board of Education members on Wednesday rejected a proposed ban on non-government flags on school property.
The policy would have banned flags, such as the Pride flag, Black Lives Matter flag and others from being hung or flown on school properties.
The board voted four to three, with one abstaining, against the proposed policy. The votes were as follows:
Board President Joanna Bache Tobin, District 6: No
Board VP Robert Silkworth, District 2: No
Eric Lin, Student Member: No
Gloria Dent, District 1: Abstain
Corine Frank, District 3: Yes
Melissa Ellis, District 4: Yes
Dana Schallheim, District 5: No
Michelle Corkadel, District 7: Yes
The ban, which Frank proposed, would have encouraged the display of the U.S. flag, Maryland flag and other local flags to fly at schools in the district. Any other flags displayed would have only been accepted for a “bona-fide educational purpose,” determined by the schools’ principals.
Along with banning the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, the policy would have required school staff to get permission to hang military, college and sports team flags and pennants.
Advocates for the policy argued that the display of Pride and Black Lives Matter flags harm students whose religious beliefs do not support LGBTQ or Black Lives Matter communities. Others argued the flags themselves were political symbols, and their presence would influence students’ political beliefs.
The Anne Arundel chapter of Moms for Liberty, a far-right extremist group, was a strong supporter of the policy.
Opponents to the proposal argued a ban on flags would be one more step toward excluding LGBTQ studetns and students of color.
Lin, a senior at Severna Park High School and the only student representative on the board, was met with applause from his colleagues and those in the audience when he expressed concern over the labeling of flags as political.
“The Pride flag, for example, is not a political or social issue,” Lin said. “LGBTQ people exist in our society and their fight for continued equality is represented by the Pride flag. It is a human rights issue … in a public school system, the goal is to teach students that there are people who are different than them that exist, and teachers don’t teach students to be queer. They teach students that queer people exist and to treat them like human beings.”