Protest planned against Newberg School BLM and Pride Flag ban
The ban has gained national attention since the vote, including from Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. The Oregon ACLU is also considering legal action.
NEWBERG, Ore. – Defenders are planning a Newberg School Board protest against its 4-3 vote to ban “political symbols,” including the Black Lives Matter and Pride flags earlier this month.
“It’s heartbreaking, honestly,” said Amanda Boothby, a 2015 graduate of Newberg High School. “It wasn’t exactly welcoming at first.”
After attending the full four-hour board meeting on August 10, Boothby felt compelled to act. She staged a peaceful protest in central Newberg on Tuesday, August 24.
She said symbols of support for marginalized communities, such as the pride and BLM flags, go a long way.
“I see love, I see acceptance, I see who I am as a lesbian woman,” Boothby explained. “I know Newberg loves the community very much and loves each other. And in doing this [ban]is to show hatred. “
“I hope this will wake up some people,” said Kelly Lash, a licensed professional counselor who serves clients in Portland and Newberg.
Lash defends LGBTQ + and BIPOC youth.
“The statistics are alarming,” she said.
Studies from the Trevor Project show that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are about five times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide because of bullying and lack of support. This rate increases for transgender youth.
Another study published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that black children under 13 are twice as likely to die by suicide as white children.
“It’s preventable,” Lash said. “The cure is love and acceptance.”
Newberg’s mother Tai Harden-Moore argued at the school board meeting that her black son did not feel that acceptance.
“Because my son was called [n-word] at school, ”she told council.
Vice-Chairman Brian Shannon voted in favor of the ban.
“To bring out political symbols and symbols of division from our schools,” he argued.
Before the ban could be enforced, the superintendent said district attorneys had to review it.
RELATED: Newberg School Board Votes to Ban BLM, Pride Flags, and Signs in District Buildings
The Oregon ACLU expressed strong opposition to the vote and said it would consider a court challenge if the ban goes ahead.
Lash argued that while political opinions and symbols are a choice, race, sexual orientation and gender identity are not.
“It is not a political question,” she said. “It’s not a two-sided issue. There is a side of love and acceptance of people. And there is a side of fear.”
“People are not political! Neighbor Erin McCarthy said. “This is not to express a Democratic or Republican or Conservative or Liberal idea… They are human beings.”
Erin and her husband Jaybill helped build a 17×30-foot Progress Pride flag in full view of Newberg High School after the vote. He represents both LGBTQ + people and people of color.
RELATED: Progress Pride Flag Creator Portland Advances LGBTQ Culture
“[So] that they know they are not invisible, ”Jaybill told KGW.
“No matter what people in positions of power say, know that you matter,” Erin said. “No matter how difficult it is, there are people who are there for you.”
KGW’s story on the McCarthy Protest Pride Flag has gained national attention from media outlets such as The Advocate and LGBTQ Nation.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also met lawyers in Newberg this week while on vacation, according to a tweet from Newberg Graphic reporter Ryan Clarke:
RELATED: Neighbors Build Pride Flag in Sight for Newberg High School After School Board Ban