MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia school district's directive to remove pride flags from classrooms is drawing complaints from students and community organizations.
County Board of Education President Ron Lytle told The Gazette-Mail that the flags were removed because they went against the existing “Participation in Political Activities” policy.
“I think it was just a blanket statement that all flags were to be removed,” other than the U.S. and West Virginia flags, Lytle said.
The policy says, in part, that “non-school related, political, and/or commercial literature, or campaign posters supporting one or more candidates, issues or a particular point of view shall not be displayed within the schools or on school owned or occupied property," news outlets reported.
Morgantown Human Rights Commission chairperson Ash Orr said the flags were removed on the second day of classes at Morgantown High.
More than a dozen Morgantown High School students and other gay rights supporters addressed the Monongalia County school board Tuesday to express support for the flags, The Dominion Post reported.
Meanwhile, American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia staff attorney Nicholas Ward said in an email that “we’ve received a number of complaints from students and parents about the school’s application of a troublingly vague policy to pride flags, and we are closely examining the situation.”
“Promoting inclusiveness is not a political issue,” Ward wrote, “and any interpretation of the policy that suggests otherwise raises serious concerns about violations of constitutional rights to free speech and expression.”
Lytle said the policy is legal and he supports enforcing it because it’s currently in effect, but the issue will be discussed again at the next school board meeting.