Students express their opinion on Newberg High School’s ban on political symbols in the classroom

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Xander Levine

Newberg School District office, where in-person board meetings are held. In July, the Newberg School Board voted to ban political symbols in the classroom, including Black Lives Matter and LGBTQIA+ flags.

Xander Levine

Pride flags, banned. Black Lives Matter flags, banned. This is the new reality students and families are living with. Just a 35 minute drive from downtown Portland lies Newberg, Oregon, a suburban town that has a population of around 23,000. 

In late July, Brian Shannon, co-chair of the Newberg School Board, introduced legislation to ban political symbols in the classroom, including Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ flags, which are often displayed in classrooms as acts of solidarity for students and school officials. The goal of the ban, according to Shannon, was to keep politics out of the classroom. 

“We don’t pay our teachers to push their political views on our students. That’s not their place,” he said in an interview with KGW.

The introduction of this legislation was met with both strong public support and criticism. Some Newberg residents argue that this ban is simply unconstitutional. 

The school board took an official vote on the ban in early August, voting 4-3 in favor of it. Since the vote, there have been numerous organized protests at the city’s flag pole and outside the board office demanding that the ban be revoked.

After making national headlines and mounting pressure from the public, the board hosted a public comment session followed by a vote to reconsider or rescind the ban.  On September 28th, the board once again voted 4-3 in favor of the ban. 

Lincoln senior Isabel Hanchett is in strong opposition of the ban.. 

“I think the ban should be revoked,” she said. “Students should be able to exercise their freedom of expression, especially when the message they intend to spread is positive and inclusive.”

Students statewide have expressed a similar sentiment. According to an article published by the Oregonian, some students have taken to displaying gear in favor of Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ community at Newberg sporting events, while others are posting on social media denouncing the ban. 

There is no word yet on if this ban will be revoked in the future, or even if there will be a revote. As of now, the superintendent of the school district Dr. Joe Morelock says the ban will go under further legal review.

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