Rantz: School bans pro-police flag, but allows BLM and LGBT messages
A local school district forced a middle school teacher to remove a pro-police flag from her classroom wall. But the district allows Black Lives Matter and LGBT messages to be displayed.
The teacher at Marysville Middle School posted a Thin Blue Line flag in her classroom. It was meant to support the police. But according to documents obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, the district’s human resources said the flag is a “political symbol” that could elicit a “disruption” in the classroom. She was ordered to take it down.
But why are BLM and LGBT displays allowed to stay up? While the district refuses to answer, the teacher’s brother says school staff indicated anti-police sentiment informed the decision.
Marysville school district says no to pro-police flag
The teacher is supportive of law enforcement. Her brother, Chris Sutherland, is a former officer with the Marysville Police Department. He was also a school resource officer during the deadly Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting.
The teacher first placed a Thin Blue Line sticker on her laptop to honor her brother and other law enforcement officers. The image is a symbol of support for the work of police officers to keep communities safe.
At the time, an assistant principal objected to the sticker.
According to an HR document on the incident, she alerted the teacher to “concerns about how students, families, and community members might interpret what the image is intending to communicate, and that this interpretation may cause a disruption to the learning environment.”
But the teacher says the objections were soon dropped.
Shortly after, the HR document says the teacher displayed a Thin Blue Line flag on her classroom’s bulletin board. She posted photos of her brother around the flag. Then, a second assistant principal ordered her to take the flag down.
“They told her that it’s controversial to have that flag up. That it makes kids and staff feel unsafe, which to me, that does not make sense at all,” Sutherland explained on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
HR was ‘highly concerned’ about the pro-police message
A district HR representative sent the teacher a Letter of Clarification concerning the conduct.
In addition to concerns over how some might interpret the pro-police sticker and flag, the HR representative said the district was “highly concerned about the impact of this political symbol on students, staff, and families of Marysville Middle School.” It says an assistant principal “had heard concerns from other staff members about how this political symbol might negatively impact the overall professional work environment.”
The document does not express what the concern would be or why it would exist in the first place. But it did order the removal of the flag and demanded the teacher “refrain from using the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ symbol” in the classroom.
If the teacher did not abide by the rules, it “may result in further disciplinary action.”
In a statement to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, the district confirmed this incident is considered a personnel matter and would not comment.
And while the Letter of Clarification said the district supports police, a district spokesperson refused to explain why a Thin Blue Line flag is political. While the pro-police flag is banned, the school permits political expression that is critical of police.
BLM and LGBT messages are given a pass
Sutherland explains that his sister has seen BLM messages displayed in classrooms.
“There’s also, she was telling me, BLM stuff hanging on walls, which she was told is OK. Just for whatever reason, just the Thin Blue Line flag cannot be hung up there,” Sutherland explained.
That’s not all. This specific teacher also displayed an LGBT pride flag to support a gay family member.
The district refuses to explain why BLM and LGBT messages are approved, but not a Thin Blue Line symbol.
BLM is a political movement that advocates explicitly for policy prescriptions to perceived problems. A Thin Blue Line symbol does not make any particular political agenda.
And the LGBT pride flag has also been used as an explicit political symbol to advance civil rights. A Thin Blue Line symbol merely expresses support for law enforcement.
The district refuses to explain why these two messages are permitted, but not one that supports police.
Teacher vows to fight on
The teacher reluctantly removed the display from the bulletin board. In an HR document, she says the situation “has been the most traumatic and hostile” experience at the school to date.
“I was proud to come back as a Marysville Alumni and begin teaching here in 2014. I remain hopeful for the remainder of the school year,” she wrote in response to the HR representative.
She explained that the decision to pull the flag came from “an agenda rather than really wanting to gain any understanding of me, who I am, or my story.”
It’s a feeling her brother says he feels when he talks to her.
“It’s hurtful because I can hear in her voice how much it actually hurts her being told to [take down the flag],” Sutherland said. “So when [she] and I talk about it, back and forth, it’s frustrating because I know how much she cares and how much this means to her. For her to have to go through that, … it’s just not fair.”
Sutherland says his sister will continue to push the issue so she can once again display the flag without fearing termination as a result. But as she deals with this ordeal, she says she forgives the school for their sleight. But she told the HR representative that the incident “left a lasting impression.”
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