MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — Madison City Schools held their first school board meeting on Tuesday after the superintendent decided to remove LGBTQ+ Pride flags from schools.
Both parents and community leaders were in attendance to demanded a clear explanation of why the flag was removed from classrooms.
Julian, a transgender student at Bob Jones High School who struggled early on with his identity, also faced hatred at school after he came out that led to looking for support and the Pride flag played a huge role.
“Even just expressing yourself like that can be a support system even in itself,” Julian told News 19. “It can also alleviate those feelings of gender dysphoria and stress. Whenever I’m in a classroom with a Pride flag in a classroom I feel safer in that classroom because then I know for sure that that teacher is either a part of my group or supports my group.”
But Julian and others who support gay rights attended Tuesday’s school board meeting saying that the Pride flag has been on the art classroom door for quite some time at Bob Jones. Finnegan Walker of the Gay-Straight Alliance says that the removal was a clear violation of free speech rights.
“I couldn’t tell what gave the power to do this because I thought this was protected under the 1st amendment right and 14th amendment right. I couldn’t understand how this could be done,” said Walker. “I couldn’t really find where this was coming from all of a sudden.”
Superintendent Ed Nichols sent out an email on August 26th to defend his decision saying in part that the flag represented a political stance by the teacher and needed to be removed.
Flags were removed from other schools as well but Ashley Dennis, the co-founder of Reclaim AL E.D.U., a parent support group, says that a flag to help a student stay safe is very unnecessary.
“The only flag that encompasses all students is the American flag,” Dennis said. “I am also okay with the Alabama state flag. I know that Bob Jones also waves their school flag. It’s not a specific group having something just specific to them on display for the entire student body to see. That is not necessary.”