The Journal Gazette
 
 
Friday, September 10, 2021 1:00 am

Bluffton board to decide on pride flag in classroom

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

A Bluffton school board is expected to decide Monday whether a pride flag can stay in an eighth grade classroom.

Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District issued a statement Thursday saying it has “developed a working group to discuss, consider and recommend options related to access, equity, diversity, acceptance and success.”

Two policies were introduced during a special meeting of the Bluffton-Harrison school board after a parent said her child was bullied because of the LGBTQ+ flag.

The classroom postings policy that might prevent the pride flag in classrooms was introduced with a 3-2 vote. The drafted policy states classroom postings can't contain “materials, such as political or religious material, that is unrelated to the curriculum and instruction goals of the courses of study conducted in that classroom.”

The policy, which includes criteria for teachers to follow when discussing controversial topics in class, was introduced with a unanimous vote.

More than 350 people attended the August special meeting to share their opinions, most of which were in favor of the pride flag staying in the classroom.

Bev Balash, the eighth grade teacher who put the flag up, spoke openly about the pride flag hanging in her classroom at the special meeting and said it lets students know that her classroom is a safe space. She asked the board to let her keep the flag in place.

Board members Julie Thompson and Bruce Holland, who voted against the classroom postings policy's introduction, said revisions would need to be made to get their support.

A second reading for both policies is on the agenda for Monday's meeting at 6 p.m. at Bluffton High School, at 1 Tiger Trail in Bluffton. The meeting will also be streamed live at meet.bhmsd.org.

Bluffton-Harrison's working group of a dozen includes school administrators, pastors from local churches, social workers and Balash. The group is planning on holding its initial meeting Sept. 20.

“Regardless of any upcoming policy decision by the school board, our district will continue to broaden our inclusive practices to create learning opportunities where all students feel safe and accepted,” a news release states. “We believe our district will have greater success by leveraging the support and partnership of local service agencies, organizations and professionals in our community.”

dfilchak@jg.net


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