Conservative Sunol school board flag ban sparks ire from LGBTQ community

The Sunol Glen School Board voted 2-1 Tuesday night in favor of a resolution that bans the display of all flags except for the U.S. and California flags on district property. 

About 100 people packed the meeting room in a meeting that started with calls to calm and then devolved into chaos. 

The resolution came after Superintendent Molleen Barnes allowed a pride flag to be displayed this summer in front of the district's only school, which serves about 271 students in grades K-8. 

"We chose to fly the inclusivity flag so the students from the LGBTQ-plus community would know we're a place of equity and inclusivity," said Barnes. 

The big controversy surrounding the display of a pride flag, thrust the tiny Sunol Glen School District into the middle of the nation's cultural battle over displaying LGBTQ+pride flags on public school grounds. 

Barnes delivered her reasons for supporting the display, openly clashing with Board President Ryan Jergensen, who proposed the resolution. 

"My concern is when a school starts endorsing any single particular view it can be divisive," said Jergensen.

At one point, Jergensen repeatedly pounded the gavel, calling the superintendent's actions out of turn as she called up staff members to share their opposition during her part of the agenda. 

Later, tempers flared as one woman stood up and objected to Jergensen and a speaker who was a supporter of the ban. Jergensen then ordered everyone to leave and told sheriff's deputies to clear the room, allowing only journalists to remain. 


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Things got heated at the Chino Valley Unified School District's meeting as the school board voted to require transgender students to come out to parents.

Before that, people on both sides of the issues took to the mic. 

Some spoke in favor of the ban.

"We should have no other flags than those two and I'm fine with that cause that's all we need in the schools," said Manny Morales, who came from Castro Valley and did not have children in the Sunol school. 

"They have crossed the line from academics into values, beliefs, opinions, politics and sex," said Lisa Disbrow, a teacher from Moraga and member of the group Informed Parents of Contra Costa County. "It's like giving a credit card, a sexual credit card to students to engage in sexual behaviors, identities, when they're still minors."
 Others spoke against the resolution. 

"Seeing that flag for an LGBT student tells them this is a safe place," said Austin Bruckner Carrillo, who represented Castro Valley Pride, along with some three dozen other attendees.

"Are their actions representing the people? Have they talked to the people? No one talked to me about this," said Jim O'Laughlin, a Sunol school alumnus and resident who criticized the board members for supporting a ban.

The three board members debated whether the resolution was legal.
In the final vote, Jergensen and board member Linda Hurley voted in favor of the ban.

Board member Ted Romo voted against it.

Supporters cheered for the ban's final passage.

Others, however, say this ban is so broad it includes any flags on campus and could expose the board to lawsuits.

"The fact that it is a prohibition on the entire campus, I think, is problematic for the school district and I think there will be litigation filed," said Alameda County School Board Vice-President Cheryl Cook-Kallio.

Some opponents already are saying they plan to work on a recall effort targeting the two board members who voted for the ban.