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Parents concerned about pride flag in Flandreau classroom

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Some parents in Flandreau are concerned about a pride flag hung up in one of its school’s classrooms.

Those parents voiced their concerns at a school board meeting held Monday evening. However, it was met with opposition from others in the community. Dozens showed up at that meeting to let their opinion be heard on what symbols should or shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom.

The whole thing stems from an incident outlined by parents in a letter sent to the Flandreau School Board.

That letter reads that a student made a comment about a pride flag hanging in an adjoining classroom. The parent claims the next day that boy was pulled out of class and told his remarks needed to be kept quiet.

The parents argue equal merit should be given to all opinions in the classroom, and that if there are opposing views they should be discussed, not dismissed.

Dustin Headrick, a Flandreau resident, is one of more than 50 parents who showed their support for this sentient by signing that letter, along with a request for an open forum.

“I feel like teachers should be in the classroom to teach our students how to think, not what to think,” Headrick said.

Headrick has several children still in the public school system, he says the issue isn’t about what the flag stands for, but instead the idea that teachers are forcing their own personal views on students.

“To be honest with you, I love everything that flag represents,” Headrick said. “It’s less about hateful rhetoric, as it is leaving morals and politics to the parents.”

Others disagree.

“(The pride flag) has a right to be there, it legally has a right to be there,” Tracey Heinemann, another Flandreau resident, said. “It’s diversity, inclusion, every one of those colors means something.”

Heinemann and her husband’s kids went to school in Flandreau, they want the classroom to be a place where all students feel safe.

“After seeing (Monday night’s) agenda, we were very appalled by the documents and emails sent by the parents because that’s not who we are as a community,” Heinemann said.

Headrick says he wants the same, but that this flag creates a slippery slope.

“I want our teachers to teach our kids, not be political activists... we’re not there yet in Flandreau, but it’s coming if we don’t nip it now,” Headrick said.

Ultimately, for the school, it all boils down to legality. And, flying a pride flag in the classroom is protected under federal law.

To view that full letter, and others sent by parents, click here.

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