Students and parents are speaking out after the display of a rainbow flag at Auburn High School in Alabama.
The flag appeared at a fair for the school’s extracurricular activities. The school’s EDUCATE club, which promotes diversity, created and displayed the flag.
Now, the community finds itself embroiled in controversy over the flag.
On 18 August, a petition to remove the flag appeared online. According to the petition, which currently boasts 282 supporters, the flag is currently on display in a teacher’s classroom.
The petition addresses the school’s principal, Shannon Pignato. It argues the flag ‘creates a hostile and provocative learning environment’. Furthermore, the petition claims it is ‘unprofessional and distracting for a teacher to be so openly displaying their political views in an unbiased and socially neutral public setting’.
It also asks Pignato ‘to consider the uproar and chaos that would ensue were a teacher to hang for example a Confederate, Christian, or Heterosexual Flag in their classroom’.
However, a counter-petition protesting the removal of the flag is gaining more traction. It currently has 4,623 supporters.
This petition posits that ‘to suggest individuals be isolated from differing political views is an absurdity’ and ‘attempting to insulate a student from political discourse would be an insult to their intelligence’.
It also states the flag gives LGBTI students a safe space. The teacher is the sponsor for the EDUCATE club.
‘School system distinguished by compassion for others’
Gay Star News reached out to Pignato and learned she has not been presented with either petition. However, she ‘is aware of the situation and is working with staff and students to address the concerns’.
The statement further said: ‘It is the mission of Auburn City Schools to ensure each student embraces and achieves his or her unique intellectual gifts and personal aspirations while advancing the community, through a school system distinguished by: compassion for others, symbiotic relationships with an engaged community, the creation and sharing of knowledge, inspired learners with a global perspective, and the courage to determine our future.’
‘It is my sincere desire to assist our students in learning to address their opinions and values in a calm and respectful manner,’ Pignato told GSN. ‘This differing of opinions related to the EDUCATE club at AHS affords our faculty and students an opportunity to learn and model a civil manner in which to resolve differences.’