Tennessee Bill Targets Indoctrination Flags in Schools

A proposed bill in Tennessee aims to restrict public and charter schools from displaying flags other than the U.S. flag and Tennessee state flag, specifically targeting symbols deemed “indoctrinating,” such as LGBTQ pride flags.

“A school should be a place where a child goes to learn, not a place where a child goes to be indoctrinated,” State Rep. Gino Bulso, R-Brentwood, emphasized, noting that the bill aims to prevent “authority figures from injecting into the classroom these political statements,” The Hill reported.

House Bill 1605, introduced in November, states that local educational agencies (LEA) or public charter schools “shall not display any flag other than the United States flag and the official Tennessee state flag on or in a public school.”

Bulso, the bill’s sponsor, was inspired to propose the legislation following contentious debates among parents on the Williamson County School Board regarding the presence of programming flags in educational settings, according to reports from The Tennessean.

The legislation may also impact other flags, including the Black Lives Matter (BLM). Tennessee law already requires public schools to display the U.S. flag. Still, the passage of HB 1605 could make Tennessee the first state to institute a statewide ban on programming or political flags in public classrooms.

This move aligns with a broader nationwide trend to remove the pride flag from public and educational spaces. The Gilbert Baker Foundation, named after the creator of the iconic rainbow flag, reports that over 40 communities nationwide have implemented bans on the flag.

The Gilbert Baker Foundation views these efforts as indicative of a “rise in American conservative censorship,” paralleling right-wing calls for book bans and curriculum changes.

In response, the organization launched the “Save the Rainbow” national campaign, filing an open letter with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation in February. The letter argues that attempts to ban the pride flag blatantly infringe upon First Amendment rights granted to public school students.

“Obviously, there’s a balance there,” Bulso said. “But the purpose of the school is to educate the child. It’s not a place for people to go and make statements that are protected by the First Amendment.”

Similarly, Florida GOP State Rep. David Borrero has filed House Bill 901, seeking prohibitions on flying any flag representing “a political viewpoint,” including partisan, racial, sexual orientation, gender, or political ideology viewpoints.

In reaction to the prohibitions, the National Education Association (NEA), the most prominent teachers’ union in the nation, has urged school boards to expressly authorize the display of pride flags within schools as representations of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)—emphasizing that such displays should be regarded as expressions of these values rather than as political declarations.

“I personally think that the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a fraud, and what we’re seeing now on our campuses across the country is proof of that,” Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, said at a November hearing of the House Education and Workforce subcommittee on higher education, reported the Washington Times.

Jim Thomas |

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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