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Tennessee House Passes Bill Banning ‘Pride’, Other ‘Ideological’ Flags in Schools

Christian Talk Podcast

The Tennessee House has approved a bill by a large margin that seeks to prohibit the display of various “ideological” flags, including the Pride flag, in public and charter schools. The vote on HB 1605 was 70-24 in favor, with one member abstaining. The legislation would prevent schools from showcasing flags that symbolize political, partisan, racial, sexual orientation, gender, or other ideological perspectives.

Republican Rep. Gino Bulso, who sponsored the bill, claimed that his constituents have complained to him that too many public schools have “indoctrinated” students through ideologically charged flags such as the Pride flag.

“The whole idea is that a school is a place where a child goes to learn, not a place where a child goes to be indoctrinated,” Bulso said.

“What we’re doing is making sure parents are the ones who are allowed to instill in their children the values they want to instill.”

Bulso also expressed concern that Pride flags draw parity between traditional marriage and same-sex unions.

“If you have parents across the state who want to instill in their children values represented by the pride flag, they are certainly entitled to do that,” he said on the House floor. “On the other hand, if you have parents who want to instill values in their children that are not consistent with the values represented by the pride flag, they have the ability to do that.”

“Everyone is entitled to mutual respect. Everyone is entitled to mutual dignity. Everyone is entitled to tolerance.”

The discussion and media coverage of the bill have predominantly centered on the Pride flag, but it also prohibits flags with “racial” themes, which would extend to controversial race-related flags like those supporting Black Lives Matter in schools.

As outlined in the bill, schools are only allowed to display certain flags such as the American flag, Tennessee state flag, various military flags, approved historical flags, Native American tribal flags, college and university flags, and school flags.

There are exceptions for “ideological” flags to be temporarily displayed as part of a legitimate course curriculum. Items like Pride-themed coffee mugs, jewelry, tattoos, and similar displays would still be permitted under the bill.

As might be expected, Democrats slammed the bill as bigoted and hateful. “The signal that it is giving is evil and wrong,” said Rep. Justin Pearson, one of the “Tennessee Three” who were expelled from — then quickly reinstated to — the state House last year over a protest regarding gun control.

Another Democrat representative waxed melodramatic as he portrayed people experiencing same-sex attraction as the victims of seemingly endless persecution.

“I am proud when I walk into the public schools in my city, to see the LGBTQ flag in the classrooms, proudly put up by teachers who understand the suffering that many of their students go through,” said Rep. Jason Powell. “We should be welcoming and celebrating our students, not hating on them.”

As the House began deliberating on the measure, Rep. Justin Jones, a colleague of the “Tennessee Three,” passionately called out and insisted on being acknowledged.

Meanwhile, groups of LGBTQ activists assembled in the Capitol, chanting fervently and proudly displaying Pride and transgender flags.

But all that emoting and demonstrating did not have much of an effect. Jones was ruled out of order, and Bulso stoically asserted, “I am proud to stand up here on behalf of parents across the state, regardless of how many barbs of hatred and bigotry you want to throw against those parents.”

The state Senate may review a companion bill as soon as Thursday, following its approval by the Senate Education Committee last week in a 5 to 4 vote.

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Joe Messina

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