MONROE, N.C. (CITC) — Parents are pressing a North Carolina school board on whether a proposed policy change will prohibit Pride flags from being displayed in classrooms.
Union County Public Schools (UCPS), one of the state's largest districts, is weighing placing tighter restrictions on what materials can be used in its schools. The proposed changes to its current classroom policy would alter how instructional materials are chosen and even challenged, including books and displays.
UCPS believes the policy would help prepare students for a "meaningful and productive" future. However, several parents fear its "vague" language will alienate certain students.
During Tuesday's meeting, one mom asked the UCPS school board outright what materials are considered unfit for learning environments.
"I've got a simple one. Does the proposed change in the classroom display policy ban the Pride flag from being displayed?" she asked. "I have asked it in emails, haven't gotten a response, so I'm here asking the question."
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The mom waited in silence for the remainder of her allotted comment time as the UCPS board refused to answer, saying it is standard practice not to communicate with speakers.
Other parents joined the mom in demanding for answers. One father questioned not only what prompted the proposed change, but why there is an "abundance of vague language" in the proposal.
"Vague language is always used to create intentional loopholes and put abuse of policy into what seems like a well-meaning policy," Miles Cooley, who also teaches within UCPS, said. "The lack of clear defined language is disingenuous, irresponsible and ineffectual to education at its best."
The proposal does not explicitly mention the Pride flag. Despite that, an online petition calling for the end of "anti-LGBT censorship" in UCPS has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
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Some parents chose to applaud UCPS's "commitment to making education the priority" Tuesday.
Brittney Bouldin told the board she believes the proposal would keep "politically divisive topics and ideologies" out of the classroom. Her sentiments were echoed by Abigail Prado.
"Identity politics has no place in our education system," Prado said. "Identity politics emphasizes the difference between racial and sexual identities and creates further division between students by designating certain groups of students as 'oppressors' and other groups as 'victims.'"
The UCPS school board did not provide any additional clarity on the proposal Tuesday. The proposal will be voted on at a later date.
Crisis in the Classroom (CITC) reached out to UCPS for comment, as well as to learn whether the Pride flag would be prohibited if the proposal does pass. A UCPS spokesperson directed CITC to the proposal language, which states "classroom displays shall be limited to materials which represent the United States, the State of North Carolina, the school name and mascot, and/or are related to the curriculum."