LEHI, Utah (ABC4) — A Skyridge High School student started a petition to defend her teacher who she claimed was forced by school officials to take down a Pride flag in the classroom.
Skyrigde High School reportedly posted a photo on its Instagram page featuring a student highlighting her academic achievement and her teacher smiling beside her last week. A Pride flag can be seen behind the two.
Olivia Brown, the student who started the petition, said that a parent saw the social media post and went to the school officials, who told the teacher to remove all Pride-associated materials from the classroom, including wooden painted flags made by students.
“The school and teacher got a lot of backlash, enough to get the flags taken down,” Brown said.
The Instagram post has since been deleted.
The petition, now with more than 1,380 signatures, aims to show Skyridge High administrators that the community is in support of putting Pride flags back up in the classrooms.
“As someone who is a part of the LGBTQ community, I felt upset,” Brown said. “I think it was unfair that a teacher who just wanted to talk about acceptance and love had to be asked to take them down. And I think schools should be a place where students feel safe and accepted and welcome.”
Alpine School District’s policy regarding materials in the classroom states that “classrooms are not public forums for the display or promotion of political, religious, or personal viewpoints, and employees may not use them for such purposes.”
But some comments on the petition page state that an individual’s identity is not political and that the flag in the classroom made some students feel safe. One individual points out that the idea of the Pride flag being a political or sexual statement is dehumanizing.
“Every child should feel safe. They need to receive unconditional acceptance among their peers and teachers. There is enough hate out in the world. A classroom is where kids should thrive and build confidence,” read one comment under the petition.
Representatives of the Alpine School District say the investigation is ongoing, and they are carefully reviewing the guidelines outlined in the state code and referenced in Policy 6161 regarding incidental materials.