Tennessee House Votes To Ban Most Flags In Schools

The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prohibit the display of flags besides the American flag in public schools.

House Bill 1605 was approved in the Republican-led House by a 70-24 vote on February 26. The legislation now heads to the state Senate, where it will need to be approved before being sent to the desk of Republican Gov. Bill Lee.

The bill seeks to crack down on the controversy surrounding various political and cultural flags by banning the display of flags that represent a group or ideology other than the United States and the state of Tennessee. If it becomes law, schools and employees would be prohibited from displaying non-national or state flags “anywhere students may see the object.”

Although examples of banned flags are not detailed in the bill’s language, the legislation would prohibit the display of certain ideological symbols including pride flags as well as those that represent Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

Flags that serve as visual representations of left-wing ideologies have been a point of tension and debate in school districts throughout the country, with conservative Americans arguing that the presence of such material is a deliberate effort to indoctrinate young citizens.

Even the debate that eventually ended in the passage of House Bill 1605 was not without tension. Prior to the vote of approval, a heated discussion ensued. Per a recording of the debate, Nashville Rep. Justin Jones (D) can be heard shouting at Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

Jones was arguing that the Speaker of the House had been ignoring requests from representatives to engage in the discussion. Republicans subsequently agreed that Jones was out of order, which silenced his complaints.

The bill is sponsored by Brentwood Republican Gino Bulso, who said during the debate that parents should be given the opportunity to “instill values” with which they agree in their children rather than allow schools to promote divisive ideologies onto kids.

Bulso has stated that the bill honors “mutual respect” and “preserves tolerance” for “all” students and their parents. House Democrats, however, argue that the legislation is not inclusive enough of students whose beliefs are in line with divisive ideologies.

Rep. Jason Powell (D) specifically stated that in-school flags representing controversial political and cultural beliefs make him “proud” to visit schools but restricting them amounts to “hating on” students who believe what the flags stand for.