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LGBTQ flags may be banned in schools in Tennessee

An LGBTQ Pride flag flies over Bob Hart Square in downtown Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (File photo: Andrew Kuhn/TNS)
February 28, 2024

The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would ban the display of most LGBTQ flags in public school classrooms.

According to Fox News, House Bill 1605 was approved 70-24 in the Republican-led Tennessee House on Monday. The legislation has been sent to the state Senate, with a final vote expected to be held as early as this week.

The proposed legislation states that Tennessee schools “shall not display any flag other than the United States flag and the official Tennessee state flag on or in a public school.” If signed into law, the legislation would prevent schools from “displaying” pride flags and other prohibited flags “anywhere students may see the object” by allowing parents and guardians of eligible public school students to file lawsuits against schools that fail to abide by the legislation.

While the legislation would limit what flags can be displayed in public schools in most cases, the law would allow the U.S. flag, the Tennessee flag, Native American tribe flags, local government flags, armed forces flags, prisoner of war flags, college flags, individual school flags, and flags of other countries. The legislation also would allow additional flags to be displayed in some situations based on school curriculum.

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Fox News reported that Republicans cut the debate on the bill short on Monday, prompting Democratic State Rep. Justin Jones to accuse Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton of acting out of order and ignoring the concerns of Tennessee residents. In response to Jones’ outburst, Republicans voted Jones out of order.

Democrat State Rep. Jason Powell also argued against the Republican-led bill, saying, “I am proud when I walk into the public schools in my city, to see the LGBTQ flag in the classrooms, proudly put up by teachers who understand the suffering that many of their students go through. We should be welcoming and celebrating our students, not hating on them.”

While Democrat lawmakers opposed the bill, Republican State Rep. Gino Bulso, who sponsored the bill, explained that the bill is allowing parents to be the “ones who are allowed to instill in their children the values they want to instill.”

“If you have parents across the state who want to instill in their children values represented by the pride flag, they are certainly entitled to do that,” Bulso said. “On the other hand, if you have parents who want to instill values in their children that are not consistent with the values represented by the pride flag, they have the ability to do that.”