The Connetquot School District is coming under fire from gay activist groups, and even the New York State governor’s office, for upholding its no-flag policy that prohibits a teacher from displaying a pride flag in one of its classrooms.
This is not a case of the board taking a stand against gay rights; rather, it’s enforcing a policy of neutrality, forbidding political advocacy in its classrooms. The only flags allowed under existing school policy are the American and New York state flags — and that’s the way it should be.
If the school were to bend on this issue, how would it stop other teachers from placing political flags in their classrooms? What about those who promote Black Lives Matter, or Blue Lives Matter, or certain positions for or against abortion? What about the flag of one country engaged in a conflict with another?
It is very important that our schools continue to discuss political issues in the classroom so that students are aware of current events and understand both sides of an issue. Those discussions about political issues should be done with a teacher acting as a monitor to get children to hear and think about both sides of an issue.
It gets into dangerous territory, however, when a teacher begins to advocate for one side over the other. This is why the school district is absolutely correct in enforcing its neutral stance. This has nothing to do with whether the district is for or against gay rights. The administrators wisely understand that, once you allow a teacher to advocate one political stance, it’s impossible to stop the next teacher from advocating for a different point of view.
The district is going to come under a great deal of pressure, but it should hold strong. Their present policy is the correct one.