School board ban on anti-racist, LGBT signs draws controversy
An Oregon school board has banned educators from displaying Black Lives Matter and gay pride symbols, prompting a torrent of recriminations and threats to boycott the town and its businesses.
Newberg, a town of 25,000 residents situated 25 miles southwest of Portland in wine country, has become an unlikely focal point of a battle between the left and right across the nation over schooling.
The City Council has condemned the action by the Newberg School Board. So did members of color of the Oregon Legislature and House and Senate Democrats. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is threatening to sue. The Oregon State Board of Education called on the school board to reverse course, saying student identities should be welcomed and affirmed.
But the four conservative members of the seven-member board are digging in their heels. Member Brian Shannon, who proposed the ban, said lawmakers from Portland should keep out of the school district’s business and instead focus on Portland, where homelessness is an issue.
Opponents say the board has emboldened racists. On Sept. 17, a special education staffer at a Newberg elementary school showed up for work in blackface, saying she was portraying anti-segregation icon Rosa Parks in order to protest a statewide vaccine mandate for educators. She was immediately placed on administrative leave.