When Rainbows Become Political

When Rainbows Become Political

The Washoe County School District recently ruled against teachers displaying any sort of pro-partisan propaganda in classrooms. This prevents imagery relating to typically “partisan” stances from being shown, which will prevent teachers from keeping rainbows in their classrooms or discussing Black Lives Matter. We cannot let our district, which isn’t even 500 miles away, follow suit. 

While the county said that they don’t want to alter anyone’s identity, they won’t allow teachers who are members of the LGBTQ community to hang a rainbow flag. But if being a part of a community is a political issue, then being excluded from that community is one too. One female teacher not being able to visibly display her girlfriend should automatically bar another female teacher from displaying a photo of her husband or her children on her desk. Because being straight, it seems, automatically makes someone not political. 

Apparently, not wanting to promote anti-violence to students is also a political stance. That’s not to say that BLM doesn’t have political affiliations, but at its core, the movement is about not senselessly killing people. So think about it: By not advocating for it, you’re advocating AGAINST people senselessly killing others. That means –– once more for the people in the back –– you’re okay with people senselessly killing others. What a fantastic mentality for a school to have. 

Just imagine thinking that the color of someone’s skin is a political issue. Imagine thinking that who a person loves is about taking a political stance. Imagine thinking that basic human rights are a political issue. Imagine being that dense. 

You can’t control how you’re born—it’s not a matter of partisan politics. There are straight Democrats and gay Republicans, and sexual orientation or ethnicity or race or gender — literally none of those denote any sort of party affiliation. 

And while I stand firmly against political propaganda in classrooms –– it’s not a teacher’s job to tell students how to vote or what to believe in, but rather to educate them enough to make that choice for themselves –– a rainbow flag is not propaganda. 

It’s like when a teacher hangs up a college banner in their classroom. They’re proud to have gone to that college, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to advocate for every student to go to that college. It will, however, allow interested students to spark up a conversation with said teacher about the college. 

And some students, when they learn more about their teachers, find outlets who they can confide in about their problems. There are students whose parents will throw them out if they learn about their identities, and they search for teachers or authority figures who can share wisdom and help them through these experiences.

Removing that outlet can have dangerous consequences, encouraging students to hide parts of themselves instead of embracing them. Isn’t the whole point of school and adolescence to learn who you are and experiment with your identity? If students are forced to wait until college to receive any public exposure to ideas, they’ll walk into college repressed and confused. That’s not what a school district should be promoting. 

At the end of the day, it’s not so much the decision as it is the implications that are shocking. In a state that holds one of the top 20 most diverse counties in the nation, another county is allowed to call a personal identity too political for students. If a symbol of love and pride is too controversial for students, then I think the county has bigger problems to deal with.