The Journal Gazette
Friday, August 20, 2021 1:00 am

Bluffton board to address pride flag

On display in middle school classroom

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Parental concern about a pride flag hanging in a middle school classroom has prompted the Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District board to call a special meeting Tuesday.

The 6 p.m. session in the Bluffton High School cafetorium will focus on policy creation for an issue existing rules don't address. 

“The district sought legal counsel regarding the concern, and the Board is currently in the process of developing a school policy to outline parameters for controversial topics displayed in our classrooms throughout our district,” Superintendent Brad Yates said Thursday in a letter to families.

The item that raised concern by the second week of the academic year is a rainbow flag symbolizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pride social movements, Yates confirmed to The Journal Gazette.

The flag remains displayed in an eighth grade science classroom at Bluffton-Harrison Middle School, he said.

The middle school serves about 500 students in grades five through eight. About 1,600 students attend the district, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

There should be an opportunity for public comment Tuesday, Yates said.

“The goal of the Board is to develop a policy to clearly identify topics considered controversial and outline the buildings and/or grade levels in which controversial topics would not be permitted,” Yates said in the letter.

A similar situation arose last academic year at Pendleton Heights High School in central Indiana. Students asked the South Madison Community School Corp. to reconsider policy after multiple teachers were told to remove pride flags from their classrooms, the Indianapolis Star reported.

District officials told the newspaper the district wasn't anti-LGBTQ, but teachers are supposed to remain neutral and not engage in political speech.

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