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Flags in School
More than just honoring our country

The Gresham-Barlow School District Board of Directors has had a busy month. They started out the month by accepting Superintendent Dr. A. Katrise Perera's letter of resignation, effective June 30, 2021, they saw 3 board seats changed in the election and 1 incumbent member drop out of the race, and this week they will vote on whether to change its flag display policy (Policy INDB). If approved, all schools in this district could display a Black Lives Matter (BLM) flag and a Progressive Pride flag, on school grounds and in all classrooms, along with the statutorily required American flag, Oregon flag, and POW/MIA flag as mandated in law by ORS 339.875 - Procurement, display and salute of flags. Which reads in part:

(1) Each district school board and public charter school governing body shall:
(a) Procure a United States flag and an Oregon State flag of suitable sizes and shall cause the flags to be displayed upon or near each school building under the control of the board or used by the governing body:
(A) During school hours, except in unsuitable weather; and
(B) At any other time the board or the governing body deems proper.
(b) Procure United States flags of a suitable size for classrooms and cause a flag to be displayed in each classroom in each school building under the control of the board or used by the governing body.
(c) Provide students with the opportunity to salute the United States flag at least once each week of the school year.

#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s death. The flag used by the organization is an adaptation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) flag developed in the 1920’s to draw attention to lynching’s. 90 years later, Brooklyn-based artist and activist, Dread Scott, re-created the flag because he saw a parallel between the lynching’s and current day police killings and the Black Lives Matter flag was born.

The Progressive Pride flag is a take on the original rainbow Pride flag designed in 1978 by artist and gay rights activist Gilbert Baker. He came up with the design after prominent gay rights leader Harvey Milk urged him to create a new, positive symbol that the entire LGBTQIA+ community could rally behind. Today there are more than 20 different takes on the original design. However, the proposed change to the GBSD policy explicitly states the display of the Progressive Pride Flag. It was designed by Portland queer, non-binary demisexual designer, Daniel Quasar.



In addition to the flag discussion, the other change being considered is whether to expand the policies to give all students the time to learn and sing the Black National Anthem, adding to existing state statute requirement that public schools provide a weekly opportunity to recite the pledge of allegiance. The proposed policy change says: They (students) will also receive instruction on native land acknowledgements and have the opportunity to recite it at least once each week. Students shall learn the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, AND the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

The Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, was written as a poem by James Johnson. In 1919, the (NAACP) dubbed it "the Negro National Anthem" for its power in voicing a cry for liberation and affirmation for African-American people. The song is a prayer of thanksgiving for faithfulness and freedom, with imagery evoking the biblical Exodus from slavery to freedom. If you are interested in watching the District Board meeting live, it takes place on Thursday May 27 at 6:00pm Link to join the board meeting via zoom:

Meeting ID: 851 3968 6099
Passcode: 388656

Or join by phone:
Dial US: 1-253-215-8782

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-27 09:27:18Last Update: 2021-06-01 09:32:07

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