A gay pride flag that turned up recently in a cultural display in a middle school in southwestern Minnesota ruffled feathers, with students, parents and members of the community taking exception to a sexual-preferences icon being pushed into a school setting.
The display at Marshall Middle School was set up in the cafeteria, and included some flags from nations around the world. The rainbow pride flag was also included, although it is clearly not in the same category as flags of nations or states, instead representing sexual practices that many people find objectionable and even dangerous.
Speaker after speaker took the mic and protested the flag appearing in a public school. Many quoted scripture, saying homosexuality and transgenderism go “against God’s preordained purposes and order,” and the rainbow flag might “confuse” or exclude students who feel the same way.
Some brought up conversion therapy – the practice of trying to counsel away homosexual tendencies – in a positive light. Some were just generally upset.
“What’s next? Curriculum? Teaching this lifestyle in our classrooms?” parent Mohammed Ahmed asked.
It was the second meeting in a row to become a debate on the pride flag. Despite the strong feelings expressed, there seemed to be some disagreement in the room about what queerness actually is. More than a few residents speaking out against the flag referred to it as a “lifestyle” or a “belief.”
One eighth-grade Marshall Middle School student said he’d circulated a petition against the pride flag, and that a teacher had taken it away and given it to the principal. Later, he said, he and his fellow students had put up their own flags on their lockers – including the “Don’t Tread on Me” snake design, according to the Marshall Independent – only to see them taken down over recess. He said he heard a teacher had removed them.
“If that young boy accurately described what happened to him, some teacher in your school district violated his constitutional rights unequivocally,” Minneapolis attorney Bill Mohrman told the crowd.