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HomeNewsTennessee Lawmakers Pass Restrictions on Display of Pride Flags in Schools

Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Restrictions on Display of Pride Flags in Schools

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Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Restrictions on Display of Pride Flags in Schools
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On Monday, 26th of February, Tennessee lawmakers voted to approve a law that would largely prohibit public school classrooms from displaying pride flags. As the house is Republican-controlled, it is not surprising that the bill passed easily. Now, they have sent it to the state Senate, where they also express it to pass easily. 

House Bill 1605 legislation seeks to prevent local education agencies from displaying flags other than the United States flag and the Tennessee state flag in public schools. However, there are a few objections to this bill. It allows schools to display the POW/MIA flag.

This flag represents a city or metropolitan government or an official school flag. On record, it doesn’t outright state that they are banning LGBTQ+ pride flags. However, GOP state lawmakers have clarified that this was their goal.

A Republican state Representative, Gino Bulso, is the primary sponsor of the bill in the House. He said that he drafted the bill after parents and a school board member in his district complained about having pride flags in classrooms.

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While on the floor debating the bill, he said, “When you look at the issue that’s before the body this evening, it is simply this: Do parents have the right to instill values in their own children that they agree with? I think everyone can answer that question ‘yes.’”

On the other hand, the state’s Democrats are majorly against this bill. They believe that the bill disregards the rights of LGBTQ parents and parents who support the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, they believe it would fuel stigma against LGBTQ people and students in particular.

A Nashville Democrat State Representative, Aftyn Behn, also chimed in on this issue. “It seems the genuine concern behind this bill is better described as preventing social representation or a sense of belonging in one’s community,” he said. 

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Another Democrat, Representative Jason Powell, is also against this new bill. “I am proud when I walk into the public schools in my city to see the LGBTQ flag in the classrooms, proudly put up by teachers who understand the suffering that many of their students go through,” he said. “We should be welcoming and celebrating our students, not hating on them.” 

Therefore, Powell tried to introduce an amendment to the house that would clarify to school districts that they may only prohibit the display of flags that are “disruptive or materially and substantially interfere with the operation of the school.” However, it was dead on arrival at the house. 

ALSO READ: “The UN Can Go Pound Sand!” Abbott Rails Against Criticisms of New Anti-LGBTQ State Laws

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This issue is not surprising to residents of the state as its Republican-led lawmakers are anti-LGBTQ. They have filed at least 33 bills this year, targeting individuals in the community. In addition, their state governor, Bill Lee, is also a Republican.

Just last week, Lee signed a measure into law that allows public officials to decline to solemnize marriages that don’t align with their religious beliefs. LGBTQ rights groups have said it will undermine marriage equality in the state.

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