The proposed policy bans flags, signs, symbols, or other items that “denote a division of race ideology, sexual orientation, gender preference, or political affiliations.”
HARTLAND, Wis. — The Arrowhead Union High School District Policy Committee met Thursday morning to discuss a proposed policy that would ban flags and signs promoting “divisive propaganda.”
According to the proposed policy, “specifying certain areas as safe zones for some, as well as signage that promotes one group over others, can create a feeling of isolation, division, and estrangement.”
The school said certain types of flags and signs can create areas in the school that are “not equal,” with some spaces being safer and more tolerant than others. Now, in an effort to eliminate these types of spaces, the school proposed banning signs or wording, “implying that a certain area is a “safe space” (or anything similar to this).”
The school said all areas of the school “should be considered safe spaces.” The proposal came after a member of the public brought up safe space stickers they saw around the school. The stickers have the Pride Flag colors and the words “Safe Space” on them.
A member of the administration attended Thursday’s meeting saying the stickers were offered to all teachers, and anyone interested in one could have one. Some teachers accepted them and placed them on their classroom windows, door, wall, etc.
Another committee member, however, expressed her dislike of the stickers, saying the entire school should feel like a safe space and the stickers make it seem like not all areas of the school are as accepting as others.
“At some point, there might even be teachers, might, that say, ‘This is kind of offensive. I would never come in to take one of those. Because my classroom has always been safe. I tell my students it’s safe. I don’t need a sticker to designate that.,” said Kim Schubert.
In addition to the stickers, the proposed policy bans flags, signs, symbols, or other items that “denote a division of race ideology, sexual orientation, gender preference, or political affiliations.” Under the proposal, those items would not be permitted in classrooms, hallways, offices, or any other learning environments.
In the proposed policy, the school district listed examples of what sort of flags will be banned, excluding the U.S. flag and the Wisconsin State Flag. It listed, “race dividing signage (such as Black Lives Matter or anything denoting one specific race), anti-racist classroom notations, rainbows, or signage of any type promoting a sexual or gender preference, political signage promoting one party or candidate over another.”
Craig Thompson, a committee member, said there are so many symbols out there and banning them all is not the solution. He showed several other symbols not mentioned in the policy during Thursday’s meeting, saying, “These are symbols, all of them are symbols and we need to understand each other. The only way we’re going to understand each other is to have a healthy, robust discussion. That’s the American Way. The American Way is not banning stuff.”
The school specified what students wear or put on items they own is not included in the policy, as long as clothing does not conflict with the school’s dress code.
“I understand, you know, separating church and state, can’t have a cross in the building, that’s fine. But, when you’re talking about a student just existing as an LGBTQ kid, there’s nobody reason they can’t be able to express themselves or see something that they relate to in their classroom,” Darcy Sobczak, a parent, said.
At the end of the meeting, the committee voted to move the policy forward. Meaning, it will now be placed in the hands of a school lawyer for review. Committee members discussed having another meeting before taking the policy to the school board, proposing some school board members actually attend that policy meeting to get a sense of what the policy is before bringing it to the entire board.
You can read the draft policy here and watch the full committee meeting at the top of this article.