DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Central Bucks School District on Tuesday approved a revision to a controversial policy that prevents teachers from displaying specific items in their classrooms. It came after a long period of public comment, with heated points from both sides and the board.
Policy 321 prohibits Central Bucks School District employees from taking part in political activities while on the clock or on school property. Six of nine school board members passed a revision to it, adding language that bans staff from having flags, banners, photos, and other items displayed that takes a side on a political or social issue.
After the vote, they were met with both support and boos.Those for the policy agreed teachers should guide discussions but not put their opinion in it.
“It is not the role of the teacher to tell students which side of a social or public policy debate is the right or wrong side to be on,” said Mara Witsen, 25, a supporter of the policy.
The policy restricts teachers from displaying in their classrooms items that take a side on political or social issues. The text of the revised policy states it was designed to “promote education instead of indoctrination or endorsement of partisan, political or social policy matters.”
Leah Barnhart, a parent who spoke during public comment, said school employees should not advocate their beliefs on certain matters.
“This does not contribute to a positive learning climate and may be disruptive, divisive, and distracting, rather classroom instruction should relate to approved curriculum,” she said.
Parents and students opposed to the policy disagreed with some of the language of the revision, saying it is harmful to LGBTQ students, in particular, because the rule would prevent teachers from displaying pride flags.
“Having a flag in the room, in a classroom, makes my child feel safe,” said Kathleen Weintraub. “Thankfully, they are safe in their home. They’re supported, they’re loved for who they are. That’s not the case with many other students.”
“I am not a part of the LGBTQ community,” said Emma Dickinson, a junior at Central Bucks West, “but still, when I walk into a classroom and see a sticker or pride flag, I feel safe and comfortable to talk to that teacher.”
Now it’s up to Central Bucks School District’s administration to enforce the new policy.