The board of Newberg Oregon School District has voted to ban “political” school signs, including Pride and Black Lives Matter flags.

On Tuesday (August 11), Newberg Oregon School District voted to ban signs, clothing and other items which could be constituted as “political”.

The newly introduced ban will only apply to district staff and faculty, and will not apply to students.

“As a school board, it’s our job to make decisions that are going to be there for every single kid at Newberg High School, not just the kids that are represented in just one group. It has to be all kids,” said school board chair Dave Brown.

Newberg school counsellor Joshua Reid argued against the band, alongside 15 other counsellors, who signed a letter asking the school board to vote against the ban.

“When [Black and LGBTQ] students enter our schools and see the symbols that we mean to communicate love and support and affirmation, they don’t see propaganda or indoctrination or any ideology. They see a glimmer of hope that there can still be safe places and safe people in their schools,” Reid told Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).

During the board meeting, the school board heard 31 of 90 public comments before ending the public comment portion of the evening, OPB reports.

The Oregon broadcasting outlet also reported the board received over 500 emails ahead of the meeting, as said by Board chair Dave Brown.

“It still goes back to the fact that we have a lot of kids that are impacted by this positively or negatively,” Brown said. “As a school board, it’s our job to make decisions that are going to be there for every single kid at Newberg High School, not just the kids that are represented in just one group – it has to be all kids.”

In late 2020, the Oregon Department of Education’s Black Lives Matter October 2020 issued a letter, signed by the most powerful education organisations in the state, acknowledging the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racism education.

Similarly, last June, Oregon launched a plan for LGBTQ+ student success which would include supporting sexual minorities in feeling included and valued in the school environment.

“Oregon has been a national leader in protecting the civil rights for LGBTQ2SIA+ youth,” said ODE Director Colt Gill in a release announcing the plan.

Gill added: “It was among the first states to allow students to identify as non-binary or gender-fluid and developed and distributed guidance to protect the rights of transgender students. It is now imperative that we seek legislative support and funding to fully engage our LGBTQ2SIA+ youth and provide education equity.”

The plan upheld a similar model, made by Oregon, to uplift minority students in the African American Student Success Plan and the Native Alaskan Student Success Plan.

Oregon teacher Stacey Dalton criticised the vote, which passed 4-3 by an all-white board, and argued that LGBTQ+ Pride and Black Lives Matter flags offer vital visibility in a school setting.

“They are messages of love and support,” Dalton said. “White and or heteronormative students, the majority, see their own validation consistently in the curriculum Newberg School districts have adopted and therefore do not need extra messages of support.”

Newberg, Oregon has a 22,068-person population which is predominantly white (87.5 per cent) and with a much lower Black population (0.4 per cent).