A Maryland school board has moved to adopt a new policy on political symbols that could ban items like the rainbow pride flag in public school classrooms after members said teachers were "bullied" into displaying pride flags that were recently donated by an LGBTQ group.
The Carroll County school board has voted to develop a new flag policy that may only allow the U.S. flag, Maryland state flag and Carroll County flags to be displayed in classrooms.
The vote last week came after a collection of small rainbow Pride flags was donated to Carroll County Public Schools by the Westminster chapter of PFLAG, a national LGBTQ group, and schools staff members were encouraged to display them as support for the LGBTQ community.
Caitlin Edmondson, a Carroll County parent, told Fox News Digital that she found the effort "very concerning."
"The pride flags that are being forced upon teachers do not solely represent the gay community. They also represent gender identity and transgender ideology," she said. "As a parent of a 6-year-old in CCPS, it is very concerning that anyone would think it is OK to push these agendas on our youngest and most vulnerable."
Superintendent Steven Lockard said during Wednesday’s board meeting that the flags were available to any staff member who wanted one and were not forced upon anyone. School board members, however, said some teachers felt "bullied" into displaying the flag out of political pressure and that the flag violates the district’s recently revised political neutrality policy.
"Our students are a captive audience and as such need to be protected from all political agendas, both from the right and the left," school board member Donna Sivigny said during the meeting. "I also respect the rights of teachers to work in a non-hostile work environment, deliver an effective lesson and support all kids in the best way that they can, but we require that they do it in a politically neutral way that creates a safe space for every student in our schools. However, many teachers have reached out to me saying that they've been pressured or bullied to put flags in their classroom, and that's a problem that needs to be addressed."
"These flags were shoved down teachers’ throats to put on their desk – that’s not inclusive," added school board President Kenneth Kiler. "That’s not the way it ought to be."
"What this does is open up a gateway for other flags to come into our schools that other people will not like," said school board member Tara Battaglia. "We’ve already banned the Confederate flag, and that was done a couple of years ago. … The premise behind the Pride flag was social advocacy ... which is political."
Sivigny proposed that a new flag policy effectively ban all political flags and allow only the U.S. flag, Maryland state flag and Carroll County flags to be displayed in classrooms.
The board will work to develop a new policy on flags and hear public comment on the topic before taking a vote.
The local group Concerned Parents of Carroll County said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital that it supported the board’s decision to develop a flag policy and Sivigny’s proposal.
"We support the board’s decision to revisit the flag policy and fully back the recommendations by its members to restrict the use of flags/symbols to the U.S., Maryland state and county flags," the group said. "The coordinated effort by our school system to make every classroom a billboard for political and social justices causes was a step too far that disrupted the learning environment and divided our community. Teachers and parents alike want a returned focus on providing an academic education to our students."
The group recently announced that it was working with Moms for Liberty’s Carroll County chapter to provide an American flag to classrooms in the district.
"We are pleased with the outcome of the meeting and believe that adopting a flag policy is an appropriate step to uphold political neutrality," chapter chair Kit Hart told Fox News Digital. "The flag distribution was an attempt to create more division in our schools, and teachers should never have been pressured to display a flag that promotes discussions surrounding sex and gender identity. Moms for Liberty Carroll County believes it is the role of the parents to decide when to have critical discussions with our children."
Earlier this year, the school district revised its political neutrality policy to require employees to "remain neutral on political issues, parties and candidates during classroom instruction" and avoid discussing such issues unless they are "aligned with the approved curriculum," The Baltimore Sun reported.