FARMINGTON, Utah (KUTV) — A Utah school district is cracking down on certain flags inside the classroom.
A spokesman for Davis County Schools said rules against politically-oriented flags have been in place for several years, but principals were recently reminded of them at a training at the beginning of the school year.
The policy is designed to keep classrooms politically neutral by prohibiting Black Lives Matter, rainbow, Make America Great Again, and other similar flags from being displayed in school, district spokesman Chris Williams told 2News.
“What we’re doing is we’re following state law,” said Williams. “State law says that we have to have a classroom that’s politically neutral.”
But some feel it's going too far. Amanda Darrow with the Utah Pride Center said the school district is “politicizing the rainbow flag" which doesn’t belong on a political list.
“That flag for us is so much more,” said Darrow. “It is just telling us we’re included in the schools, we are being seen in the schools, and we belong in these schools.”
2News checked with the Utah State Board of Education. In an email, spokesman Mark Peterson said, "There is nothing in code that specifically defines a rainbow flag as a political statement so it would be up to district or charter school policies to make that determination.”
Darrow said the rainbow flag “is a way for us to know that we are seen, and we are valid.”
Some teachers are now removing those flags that had been up.
“That may have been the situation," Williams acknowledged when asked about that. "That could have occurred."
Asked if there was a problem with those flags being flown before now, Williams responded, “Well, again, we have to keep our classrooms politically neutral. It doesn’t necessarily matter if the flag had flown before.”
Williams had been quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune as saying that only the American flag could fly in schools under the district's policy. He clarified that statement with 2News, saying some other flags are permissible – just nothing that could be construed as political.
“A University of Utah flag, BYU flag, Utah Jazz flag, we have lot of schools that have multiple flags from different countries,” Williams said, adding that those flags are fine to be displayed in school.
“Just not Black Lives Matter, Pride, Make America Great Again, things like that?” 2News asked.
“Right, yeah,” Williams said.
The ACLU of Utah released the following statement on the school district’s flag policy.
Whether or not a school district has the legal ability to ban inclusive and supportive symbols from classrooms, it is bad policy for them to do so. Utah schools have an obligation to ensure that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identify, feel welcome inside a classroom. We urge school administrators and teachers to adopt policies that make all students feel safe and included.
Williams insisted the policy is not meant to exclude anyone and that all students are loved and welcomed – they just want to keep politics out of school.
“We have to have a politically neutral classroom, and we’re going to educate the students in the best possible way that we can,” said Williams.