When the Big Walnut Local School Board of Education passed a resolution banning Pride and other “controversial” flags from school grounds, it did so against the objections of two board members and many parents and teachers, who voiced their opposition to the policy over two hours of public debate. Now, the ACLU of Ohio has weighed in, expressing “grave concerns with this policy, which is unconstitutional in multiple respects …”
Protect The 1st has always held that it’s the job of schools to educate children but the job of parents to instill personal values. We should always strike an appropriate balance between safeguarding the proper functioning of the classroom and overprotecting young people from any whiff of controversy. A blanket ban on "flags, banners, posters, electronic insignia and other items" that "promote activist causes, or [are] otherwise deemed controversial" falls short of any reasonable goal. It’s a vague, poorly articulated, viewpoint-based restriction unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny.
There seems to be growing confusion over the First Amendment at the local level (particularly at the Big Walnut school board, which previously landed in hot water for shutting down parental dissent back in 2022). School boards regularly overstep their bounds in the context of debates about educational curricula. That’s to say nothing of recent municipal and county attempts to go after newspapers based on unfavorable reporting.
The Big Walnut resolution is another example of attempting to direct the culture with laws and rules. The ACLU called it “vague to the point of incoherence.” That’s not far off. School boards and other government officials should be wary of exceeding constitutional strictures in their efforts to appease a vocal constituency, left or right – or themselves. We look forward to further developments in this story.