An online petition exceeding 1,000 electronic signatures as of Friday morning is targeting an LGBT flag at Alabama’s Auburn High School. Students and parents at the school say it is just as offensive to see the “pride” flag flying as it would be to see a Confederate flag, The Observer reports
The change.org petition wants social studies teacher Donna Yeager to remove the symbol of gay rights. Yeager is the coordinator of a “diversity” club at the school.
The students and parents say the flag isn’t planting the seeds of diversity, but of provocation.
“We strongly feel that it creates a hostile and provocative learning environment for students not comfortable to openly supporting the LGBTQ+ community in a public school where students come from diverse political and religious backgrounds,” the petition reads. “Subjecting or explicitly exposing students from diverse political backgrounds to political views differing from theirs can make students uncomfortable and distract them from learning the material assigned to them, preventing them from reaching their full potential,” it continues.
“Furthermore, we believe it is unprofessional and distracting for a teacher to be so openly displaying their political views in an unbiased and socially neutral public setting.”
The petitioners ask why they should be subjected to an LGBT political symbol when other controversial emblems are banned from school spaces.
“Consider the uproar and chaos that would ensue were a teacher to hang for example a Confederate, Christian or Heterosexual Flag in their classroom.”
LGBT advocates haven’t been silent in the wake of the protest. They have launched their own Change.org petition that argues the school is “a healthy environment for our LGBT+ peers,” and accused the flag protesters of being insufficiently inclusive. They also contend that the Confederate flag angle is irrelevant to the issue.
The second petition is currently outgunning the first with just under 7,000 names.
Auburn school system superintendent Karen DeLano said in a statement that the issue is being assessed internally.