A teacher in Washington state was ordered to take down a pro-police flag in her classroom over claims it is a “political symbol,” while messages supporting Black Lives Matter and LGBT pride flags are allowed in the school.
“They told her that it’s controversial to have that flag up. That it makes kids and staff feel unsafe, which to me, that does not make sense at all,” the teacher’s brother, Chris Sutherland, told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH of the situation.
Sutherland is a former police officer with the Marysville Police Department in Washington, and his sister had hung the “Thin Blue Line” flag to support him in her classroom at Marysville Middle School. The flag was also surrounded by photos of her brother.
The teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said an assistant principal at the school first took issue with a “Thin Blue Line” sticker on her laptop.
The assistant principal said that there were “concerns about how students, families, and community members might interpret what the image is intending to communicate and that this interpretation may cause a disruption to the learning environment,” Rantz reported after examining an HR document on the incident.
The objections, however, were soon dropped and the teacher later posted the flag in her classroom.
A second assistant principal then ordered the flag to be taken down, and an HR representative for the district said in a Letter of Clarification to the teacher that the district was “highly concerned about the impact of this political symbol on students, staff, and families of Marysville Middle School.”
The district told the teacher to “refrain from using the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ symbol” in the school or she may face “further disciplinary action.”
In the school, however, messages supporting BLM and LGBT flags are allowed, according to Sutherland.
“There’s also, she was telling me, BLM stuff hanging on walls, which she was told is OK. Just for whatever reason, just the Thin Blue Line flag cannot be hung up there,” Sutherland, who was also a resource officer during the fatal Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting in 2014, told Rantz.
The teacher also displayed a pride flag in her classroom to support a gay relative, Rantz reported.
The district did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the matter, but Rantz said the district refused to explain why BLM and pride flags were allowed, but not pro-police flags.
The teacher ultimately removed the “Thin Blue Line” flag from her classroom, but detailed in a message to HR that the ordeal “has been the most traumatic and hostile” situation she’s experienced at the school.
“It’s hurtful because I can hear in her voice how much it actually hurts her being told to [take down the flag],” Sutherland said. “So when [she] and I talk about it, back and forth, it’s frustrating because I know how much she cares and how much this means to her. For her to have to go through that, … it’s just not fair.”
Sutherland added that his sister will continue her fight to get the flag back up in her classroom and without fear of being fired for it.
The incident follows the anti-police sentiment that swept the nation last year following the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody, and the resulting defund the police movement.
Multiple teachers have removed American flags from their classrooms in recent days, with one in the Portland area removing it because it “stands for violence and menace and intolerance, and I will not fly that in my room.”
While another teacher in California was recently removed from her classroom after a viral video showed her admitting that she encouraged her students to pledge allegiance to a gay pride flag after she removed the American flag from the classroom because it made her “uncomfortable.”
Students also have faced backlash over attire or stickers supporting police, including just this week when Arizona State University students were confronted over a “racist” sticker on a computer reading “Police Lives Matter” and were told to leave the area where they were studying, according to a viral video of the incident.