Gail Grobey: Newberg High teacher removes American flag after ban on pride, BLM flags

Gail Grobey, an English teacher at Newberg High School In Portland, was opposing the school district's ban on overtly 'political' imagery on campus

A Portland-area teacher who opposes her district’s vote to ban Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride symbols in schools told local media that she removed the American flag from her classroom because it represents "violence and menace and intolerance."

Gail Grobey, an English teacher at Newberg High School and former president of the Newberg Education Association, stated that her union is mobilizing against a newly approved resolution by Newberg Public Schools that ban overtly "political" imagery on campus, including the Black Lives Matter and Pride symbols. "We are certainly going to become very active in terms of supporting the community coalition that has formed against these actions by the board," Grobey told The Newberg Graphic.


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The teacher added that the resolution scores more distractions for students and staff at the start of an in-person school year already bogged down with Covid-19 concerns.

"We want to be really excited about the kids coming in and there is already this ubiquitous apprehension around the risks of Covid," she told The Graphic. "You throw in this other thing where Big Brother wants to control what we support or what we talk about. Are we going to cancel government classes? That is deeply political. What does civics mean? We can't have civil discourse on anything under this policy language, and it's frankly ridiculous."

Grobey appeared to question why the American flag isn’t also banned, claiming it is the "most political symbol there is." "I'll say this personally: I've spent 23 years in this district and you can't tell me what to do," she said. "I know my kids, and I know what's best for them and what to do to help them feel comfortable. I took the American flag down in my classroom because that's the most political symbol there is. When I see [board member] Trevor DeHart sitting there at those board meetings with that giant American flag behind him, it's terrifying.  "That symbol doesn't stand for freedom or justice or equality anymore," she added. "It stands for violence and menace and intolerance, and I will not fly that in my room."

Newberg Public Schools held public comment on the issue concerning political symbols Tuesday, September 14 evening. It came the same day Newberg High School Principal Tami Erion sent a letter to the school community saying some students had taken part in a mock "slave trade" in a Snapchat group chat, and that they used photos of students along with racist and homophobic slurs. 

"As a community, we continue to grapple with issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging," Erion wrote, KGW reported. "Newberg High School is committed to ensuring that ALL students are afforded a safe learning environment by prohibiting harassment based upon gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or disability."