Temecula Valley School Board Approves Rule Limiting Flags Flown on Campus

Temecula Valley School Board Approves Rule Limiting Flags Flown on Campus

Flags fly at a middle school in a file photo, in Tustin, Calif., on Aug. 12, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

9/14/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

0

Another California school board has passed a rule that places a limit on which flags can be flown on school property, prompting backlash from some LGBT community members who say the rule is discriminatory.
The policy, approved by the Temecula Valley Unified school board Sept. 12, allows only U.S. and state flags to be flown on school campuses.
The board’s conservative majority—President Joseph Komrosky and Trustees Jennifer Wiersma and Danny Gonzalez—approved the new rule, while Trustees Allison Barclay and Steven Schwartz dissented.
The policy makes an exception for a flag to be flown if it is a country, state, or United States military flag “used solely for educational purposes within the adopted curriculum.”
All other flags would need the superintendent’s approval before being displayed on campus.
Some community members stated during public comment that they felt the rule was aimed at banning LGBT pride flags.
“Pride flags represent inclusivity—not sex, you weirdos,” said one public commenter.
Community members attend a Temecula Valley Unified School District board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on Aug. 22, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Community members attend a Temecula Valley Unified School District board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on Aug. 22, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Another told the board that taking down a pride flag was akin to “telling people they’re not wanted.”
“How un-American is that?” the public commenter said. “You’re telling them, ‘Go into the closet. Be quiet. We don’t want to see you. We don’t want to acknowledge you.’”
Ahead of the vote, Mr. Schwartz expressed concern that the policy would open the district up to problems regarding civil rights and free speech.
He said he had received feedback from LGBT community members who feared the policy “is an attempt to censor LGBT support” and make LGBT students feel unsafe on campus.
Conversely, Ms. Wiersma called the U.S. flag the “most inclusive and least discriminatory” flag, saying all Americans should be “united under the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The policy’s text itself clarified that it did not intend to deny the right to free speech or self-expression.
“It is not the intent of the Board of Education to deprive any person of his or her right to freedom of expression,” the policy states. “The intent of this regulation is to maintain a safe and orderly workplace for teachers, students, administrators, staff, parents or guardians and other members of the community.”
The Chino Valley Unified School District and the Orange Unified School District both approved similar policies in June.
A man waves an LGBT flag at an Orange Unified School District meeting in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A man waves an LGBT flag at an Orange Unified School District meeting in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The Temecula Valley Unified board gained statewide attention this summer when it twice rejected, then ultimately approved, an elementary social studies textbook that Mr. Komrosky deemed inappropriate for its inclusion of LGBT activist Harvey Milk, whom the board president called a “pedophile” due to reports that Mr. Milk had a sexual relationship with a minor as an adult.
Mr. Komrosky’s comment gained attention from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who threatened to send copies of the contested “Social Studies Alive” to Temecula students and to enact legislation that would fine the district $1.5 million if the board didn’t approve the textbook.
Ultimately, the board voted to approve the curriculum, with the recommendation that teachers swap the material that includes Mr. Milk with something more “age appropriate.”
Mr. Komrosky said the vote was not in response to Mr. Newsom’s threats but to avoid a costly lawsuit.
“Gov. Newsom, I act independently and authoritatively from you,” he said during the board’s July 21 board meeting. “If we do not provide curriculum—I want everybody to hear this—we will literally be sued.”
Even with the board’s about-face on the issue, the governor called for a civil rights investigation into the district in a July 21 statement.
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

Author

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.