The Oregon State Board of Education has passed a temporary rule called “All Students Belong” which bans hate symbols, explicitly including the Confederate flag, the swastika, and the noose.
Communications Director for the Oregon Department of Education Marc Siegel said, “The board’s adoption today of the All Students Belong (agenda item 4.B) OAR (Oregon administrative rule) is an important step.” He added, “This temporary rule focuses on the health and safety of our students and educators by creating a safer and more inclusive school climate.”
Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education, issued a statement reading in part, “The noose, Confederate flag and swastika are being used to bully and harm students and staff, and this is particularly true for students of color. Students must feel like they are safe and belong in their own schools if they are to learn, work and grow to their fullest potential.”
The rule observes that state law already prohibits “discrimination in any public elementary, secondary or community college education program or service,” acknowledging that these symbols create “an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.”
The rule took effect immediately, and requires school districts to be in compliance by the Jan. 1, 2021.
Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend), a member of the state Board of Education, released a statement in support of the rule, which reads in part, “The Confederate flag is a symbol of treason, racism and white supremacy. It has no place in Oregon.” Helt said she would introduce a hate-symbol bill in the 2021 session to outlaw hate symbols. Rep. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) and Rep. David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) signed on as well.
Gov. Kate Brown said on Twitter, “Every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in Oregon schools. This summer, I heard from students about how symbols of white supremacy are being used for bullying. I urged the Board of Education to put a stop to it, and I’m pleased that they have taken this action.”
John M. Burt