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Pride flags and e-mail pronouns banned by Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine school board

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News Politics: A school board in Wisconsin has banned teachers and staff from displaying gay pride flags, political or religious messages, Black Lives Matter and We Back the Badge signs.Staff are also prohibited from displaying their preferred pronouns in emails.More than 13,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the decision.

A Wisconsin school board voted in favor of a policy that prohibits teachers and staff from displaying gay pride flags and other items that district officials consider political in nature.

Superintendent Stephen Plum recently told the board that the district’s interpretation of a policy that prohibits staffers from using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views and propaganda for personal, monetary or nonmonetary gain changed following a legal analysis.

“If you have a policy that says ‘nothing political,’ does that mean you can’t have a sign up that says, ‘Support our Troops,’ or ‘Believe Women’ or ‘Save the Planet?’ By some people’s definitions, all of those things are political,” said Christine Donahoe, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.

“It really looks like targeted attacks at specific viewpoints, like LGBT communities, or welcome and safe spaces to students of color,” said Donahoe.

More than 13,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the Kettle Moraine policy that was launched by two local high school students, Bethany Provan and Brit Farrar. “Having a rainbow flag in your room isn’t pushing your beliefs on someone,” Provan told WITI-TV. “It’s just saying, ‘Hey, you’re welcome here, and we support you.’”

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“I would say that is a personal item, and I wouldn’t worry about that as opposed to something like a T-shirt that has large letters on it,” Plum said. Community members chimed in on the July 27 Facebook post, citing concerns  about the mental health of LGBTQIA+ students.

At the time, Plum, the superintendent, said district policy prohibits staff from using their positions to promote partisan politics, sectarian religious views, selfish propaganda for personal, monetary or nonmonetary gain. But in response to a question from a board member, Plum said a cross necklace would be acceptable if it is worn and is discreet. On July 27, the district posted on its Facebook page that it had prohibited the use of pronouns in emails and email signatures, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported.

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