Law passed by TN House would ban pride flags in public classrooms

The Republican-led Tennessee House passed a bill that would essentially ban public school classrooms from displaying pride flags and many feel it is “about time.”

The 70-24 vote on House Bill 1605 Monday came after a heated debate was cut short by Republicans. The measure, which now moves to the Senate, directs schools and their employees to not “exhibit or place anywhere students may see the object,” referring to flags other than the U.S. and state flags. There is no specific mention of pride flags.

“The motion to cut off debate prompted Democratic Rep. Justin Jones, of Nashville, to yell that House Speaker Cameron Sexton was out of order and ignoring people’s requests to speak. Republicans in turn scolded Jones by voting him out of order, halting his immediate comments,” the Associated Press reported.

Sponsored by Rep. Gino Bulso, R-Brentwood, the legislation bans the display of any flags that “represent a political viewpoint, including but not limited to, a partisan, racial, sexual orientation, gender, or other ideological viewpoint.”

During debate on the bill, Bulso asked, “Do parents have the right to instill values in their own children that they agree with?”

“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. 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,” the Republican said.

“Everyone is entitled to mutual respect. Everyone is entitled to mutual dignity. Everyone is entitled to tolerance,” Bulso said. “What this bill does is it preserves tolerance across the board for all parents and all school children.”

Democrats saw things differently.

“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,” Rep. Jason Powell, a Nashville Democrat, said, according to AP. “We should be welcoming and celebrating our students, not hating on them.”

But Bulso said he was responding to concerns by constituents.

“The cause was a concern by parents in my district and one school board member that certain teachers and counselors in our district were displaying a pride flag in the classroom and on a teacher’s desk, despite the fact that parents had objected to that display,” Bulso said. “I agreed to help them.”

According to the Associated Press:

The proposal would allow certain flags to be displayed, with exceptions for some scenarios. Among those approved would be the flags of the United States; Tennessee; those deemed protected historical items under state law; Native American tribes; local governments’ armed forces and prisoners of war or those missing in action; other countries and their local governments; colleges or universities; or the schools themselves.

Other flags could be temporarily displayed as part of a “bona fide” course curriculum, and certain groups allowed to use school buildings can show their flags while using the grounds under the bill.


“What we’re doing is making sure parents are the ones who are allowed to instill in their children the values they want to instill?” Bulso asked.

And while angry Democrats lashed out at the bill, missing the overall intent, many on social media applauded the long-awaited stand against indoctrinating students.


Frieda Powers


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