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Parents In Cheyenne Told Pride Flags Not Allowed In Schools


Laramie County School District #1 is still struggling to respond to racism and homophobia following an incident in late March. Posters attacking gay students and celebrating the Ku Klux Klan were found in the halls of McCormick Junior High in Cheyenne. In response, LGBTQ students and their allies carried Pride flags to send a message of inclusion.

According to a statement from the district released Thursday, another incident occurred this week where students were waving both rainbow flags, a symbol of LGBTQ pride, and Confederate flags. In response, the district said it's banning the display of Confederate flags on district property or at district events. The statement did not specifically ban Pride flags, but parents are hearing otherwise.

Substitute teacher and parent Kaycee Cook said the principal at one of her kid's schools called her directly to let her know that Pride flags were no longer permitted. She didn't say which school because she doesn't want to draw attention to her son.

"The principal just told me that Pride flags are not allowed in any of the schools in Laramie County School District #1," said Cook. "And I would need to let my child know that they could not bring a Pride flag to school."

Cook said it's harmful to ban the Pride flag because it sends a message that it's in the same category as the Confederate flag.

"I think equating a Confederate flag to a Pride flag is horribly destructive," said Cook. "A Confederate flag is a symbol of hate. The Pride flag has never been used as a symbol of hate. The colors stand for very inclusive, loving, and meaningful things."

Cook was also the co-sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), a club for LGBTQ students and allies, at McCormick Junior High. She was told by Principal Jeff Conine following the incident with the posters that she was no longer permitted at the school but was never given a clear explanation as to why.

Superintendent Boyd Brown told Wyoming Public Radio he had plans to restore Cook's access to the school and her involvement with the GSA, but Cook said that's yet to happen.

District officials were not available for comment, but the statement said that the district plans to further review policies regarding the disruptive use of flags and symbols.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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