MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — More than half of Morgantown’s City Council members have now expressed disappointment in Monongalia County School’s decision to not allow Pride flags in the classroom.
Mayor Jenny Selin, Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble and Third Ward representative Ixya Vega all shared their thoughts about the move.
“Supporting a child is not a political movement,” Vega said. “It is simply supporting a child, which is the job of the school systems. I'm so sorry to the students who have been made to feel less than and this does not align with our city's values.”
Trumble spoke next stating in her position with the city she tries to keep her larger personal politics out of things.
However, Trumble said she’s very disappointed with the decision to “make accepting children, making children feel welcome and accepted, as our city says we want to be, that should not be a political decision.”
Especially, Trumble continued, when LGTBQ+ youth are at higher risk of depression and suicidal tendencies.
Selin said Pride flags in the classroom are a signal an area is a safe space for those who identify with what the flag symbolizes.
“As such it can make a student at a highly volatile time in their life know where they might find an ear, or a friend or someone to talk to in that particular classroom,” Selin said.
In that light, it doesn’t seem to be political and Selin said she thinks it’s important to be able to find those safe spaces.
“I as one individual person from this community think it’s important that there be some indication of where someone can find that safe space in their classroom, in their school environment,” Selin said.
Seventh Ward Councilor Brian Butcher already spoke in opposition to the decision at the Sept. 13 Monongalia County Board of Education meeting — one of 13 people to do so.
Councilors Bill Kawecki, Dave Harshbarger and Joe Abu-Ghannam have not made public comments on the issue. Abu-Ghannam is a teacher at Morgantown High School.
The BOE will discuss the decision — which was made at an administrative level and not by the board — at its Sept. 27 meeting. A change in district policy could allow for the flags to be shown. Currently, the policy does not allow any flags besides the state and country flags.
A protest is planned by Morgantown Pride outside of the BOE office an hour before the meeting.
An Instagram post announcing the protest has almost 500 likes.
“Come out to support the LGBTQ+ students and faculty of Mon County Schools and demand the BOE reverse their Pride flag ban,” the post reads. “Queer community members and allies encouraged to attend! Come out to support the LGBTQ+ students and faculty of Mon County Schools and demand the BOE reverse their Pride flag ban. Queer community members and allies encouraged to attend!”