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Could LGBTQ pride flags be banned in Temecula schools?

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A proposal to limit what flags can be displayed in Temecula schools is an attempt to censor LGBTQ support, critics argue.

A change to the district’s flag policy is on the board’s Tuesday, Sept. 12, agenda. The change to the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s ceremonies and observances policy would only allow the U.S. and state flags to be displayed on district property.

Other flags must be approved by the superintendent or his or her designee “if, and only if, it is used for educational purposes and only during the related instructional period,” the proposed change states.

The revised policy also would make exceptions for “country, state, or United States military flag(s) used solely for educational purposes within the adopted curriculum.” It also would require students “to maintain a respectful silence” if they don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

While the proposed policy doesn’t mention the rainbow pride flags associated with the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ advocates see the changes as a move to ban pride flags in the classroom.

Temecula Valley Pride Community Outreach Director Justin Daley noted that Temecula middle and high schools have gay/straight alliance clubs promoting LGBTQ acceptance.

“When you condemn the idea of posting a pride flag or hanging a pride flag in a classroom, you’re sending the message that there’s something wrong, there’s something taboo, there’s something that’s not right,” Daley said.

“Having a policy like this is limiting diversity. It’s limiting acceptance. It’s giving a subliminal message that we don’t want that in our classroom. We don’t accept you as a person.”

The proposed policy, Daley said, “is just another example of hate coming from the school district (and) people that were elected and put there to represent our children and to represent the values of California.”

Board President Joseph Komrosky, who proposed the policy, could not be reached for comment Monday, Sept. 11.

It’s not the first time such a policy has been proposed in the Inland Empire. The Chino Valley school board enacted a similar policy in June.

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Redlands City Council rejected a request to fly the pride flag outside City Hall in honor of a Cedar Glen woman whom authorities said was shot and killed for flying such a flag. In May, the council rejected a request to fly the flag during Pride Month in June.

Also in May, the Riverside City Council approved a policy allowing the pride flag, among others, to be flown at City Hall.

The Temecula school board’s conservative bloc — Komrosky, Danny Gonzalez and Jen Wiersma — won a majority of seats last December with the aid of a local Christian conservative coalition.

Since then, the board by 3-2 margins — and with board members Allison Barclay and Steven Schwartz voting no — has banned the teaching of critical race theory and approved a policy requiring district officials to tell parents if their child identifies as transgender.

Komrosky, Gonzalez and Wiersma also rejected an elementary social studies curriculum with supplemental materials that mentioned the late LGBTQ civil rights leader Harvey Milk. Komrosky and Gonzalez called Milk a “pedophile,” prompting an online rebuke from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom threatened to send textbooks to Temecula and fine the school district if the board failed to adopt the curriculum. The board eventually did so in July.

Efforts to promote LGBTQ acceptance have faced pushback in Temecula, a traditionally conservative enclave.

In June, Temecula City Councilmember Jessica Alexander walked off the council dais while Mayor Zak Schwank read a proclamation honoring Pride Month. Alexander was upset over what she said were LGBTQ flags that promoted pedophilia and deviant behavior.

Tuesday’s board meeting is set to start at 6 p.m. at school district headquarters, 31350 Rancho Vista Road in Temecula.

Tickets will be handed out starting at 3:45 p.m. A livestream will be broadcast on the district’s YouTube channel.

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