OutFront Minnesota expresses our deep disappointment in the decision by the Worthington School Board to order the removal of Pride and Puerto Rican flags from the classroom of Dr. José Morales Collazo.
Labeling these flags as “controversial” sends a harmful message to students, families, and educators from diverse backgrounds that their lives and identities are up for scrutiny and debate. All of us belong in this state.
Schools can make decisions about classroom displays, but we believe that this decision—particularly in its labeling of these flags as “controversial”—will have a broader chilling effect in the district. Our Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice charge teachers with creating “a welcoming and inclusive classroom community that reflects the diversity of student cultures in the design of the physical and virtual space, expectations, and organizational routines that represent the needs of all students…[and] support[ing] students using culturally responsive strategies.”
When students and families don’t see themselves represented in school environments, when teachers feel that their identities cannot be expressed in the classroom, they are less likely to succeed to their full potential.
We thank Board Member Erin Schutte Wadzinski for standing as the lone vote in opposition, and we lift up her words: “there’s more good than harm being done to have something on the walls saying ‘everyone is welcome here.’”
As recent discussions around the newly proposed Minnesota state flag demonstrate, discussions around symbols, identity, and values are an omnipresent part of civic life. There is no better place to have these conversations than in the classroom where our students can learn to be active and engaged members of their diverse communities.
Since this fall we have been engaged with Dr. Morales Collazo and other community members who have stood up against the effort to remove these flags; and we will continue to support continuing efforts. We celebrate the Worthington Globe for their continued reporting on this important issue—even in the face of acts of hate against their staff.
LGBTQ+ people are in every community in Minnesota; and we deserve to be seen, celebrated, and welcomed.
- Chisham, Stewart. "District 518 Board votes to remove classroom flags, approves revised policy." The Globe, Worthington, MN, January 17, 2024
- Dernbach, Becky. "Worthington school board votes to remove LGBTQ, Puerto Rican flags from majority Latino school." Sahan Journal, January 19, 2024