The Anne Arundel County Board of Education in Maryland recently voted against a proposal to ban non-governmental flags, including Pride and Black Lives Matter (BLM) flags, from being displayed on school property. The policy, which narrowly failed with a 4-3 vote, would have limited flags to those representing national, state, and local government pride. However, individuals would still be allowed to wear or display non-governmental flags on their clothing or personal belongings.
Supporters of the policy argued that it would create a neutral environment in classrooms, respect the beliefs of religious families, and prevent ideological indoctrination. They maintained that the American flag should be the unifying symbol, while other flags could be divisive. On the other hand, opponents claimed that displaying the Pride flag could prevent suicides among students and argued that there was no correlation between the flags and declining academic performance.
During the meeting, board members expressed differing viewpoints. Some, like board member Corkadel, believed that displaying ideologically charged flags in classrooms created a conflict for students who felt compelled to choose between their religious beliefs and education. Others, like Superintendent Bedell, objected to the policy as it could hinder the cultivation of inclusive relationships between teachers and students. Board member Schallheim suggested that the policy unfairly targeted minority and LGBT-identifying individuals, while Dent believed that flags like the Pride and BLM flags could provide hope and should be allowed if they made students feel welcomed.
Ultimately, the board’s decision not to implement the policy received cheers from some members of the public in attendance. Those who opposed the policy argued that the Pride and BLM flags were not merely ideologies but represented symbols of hope and inclusivity. They emphasized the importance of respectful coexistence and understanding, stating that schools should teach students to respect all individuals and their diverse backgrounds.
The contentious meeting and the rejection of the policy highlight the ongoing debate surrounding the display of non-governmental flags in educational institutions. While supporters of the ban aimed to maintain neutrality and prevent ideological influences, opponents stressed the significance of representing diverse perspectives and creating inclusive environments. The outcome of the vote reflects the board’s commitment to fostering open discussions and preserving students’ ability to engage in debates on differences, as advocated by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.