Giant Pride flag flown to protest school board’s banning of ‘divisive and political’ LGBT+ symbols

Erin and Jaybill McCarthy Newberg Oregon progress Pride flag farm

Farmers have erected a giant progress Pride flag near an Oregon high school after the local school board voted to ban LGBT+, Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other “political” signs.

Jaybill McCarthy told NBC affiliate KGW that he shared his idea for the massive Pride protest on social media. The protest came just a short while after the Newberg School Board voted 4-3 to prohibit signs, flags, clothing and other items deemed to be broadly “political” from its school buildings across the district. This included items that are seen to support LGBT+ and BLM movements.

McCarthy’s wife, Erin, told KGW that the couple wanted “maximum visibility” for the progress Pride flag so they decided to erect it in their pasture among their livestock and facing the local high school.

“The result is pretty amazing,” Erin said. “We love it.”

The McCarthys added that showing support for the LGBT+ community and Black Lives Matter movement is not political. Erin said such symbols are “not expressing a Democratic idea or Republican idea or conservative or liberal”.

“It’s human beings,” Erin said.

Jaybill added: “It’s recognition that people exist.”

The farmer posted a picture of several pieces of plywood that would eventually become an “8′ x 16′ progress Pride flag that will go in our pasture in view of the high school”.

Jaybill shared that he had received donations for paint and wood after his idea was shared on a Reddit thread for Portland, Oregon – which is about 20 miles away from Newberg – and several volunteers came out to paint the Pride flag.

“My wife and I will be happy if this helps even one kid know we’re thinking about them and that they’re not alone,” Jaybill wrote on Twitter.

The McCarthys also put up a huge rainbow backdrop with the word “LOVE” written on it over their barn. Erin told KGW that the couple wanted to let the local young people know that they are not alone.

“Even though this is difficult, there are people who are there for you,” Erin shared.

According to data collected by the US census bureau, the population of Newberg, Oregon, sat at around 22,068 in April 2010. Of the city’s population, a majority (87.5 per cent) are white, 14.3 per cent are Hispanic or Latino, 2.2 per cent are Asian and 0.4 per cent are Black.

During a four-hour virtual meeting earlier this month, Brian Shannon, school board director and vice-chair, spoke out against what he viewed as “divisive symbols”, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“The main goal of this is to get political symbols and divisive symbols out of our schools so we can focus on the already difficult task of educating our students in the core subjects,” Shannon said.

But Newberg schools counsellor Joshua Reid rejected the idea that BLM and Pride represented anything ‘divisive’ or inherently ‘political’ to students.

“When these students enter our schools and see the symbols that we mean to communicate love and support and affirmation, they don’t see propaganda or indoctrination or any ideology,” he said.

“They see a glimmer of hope that there can still be safe places and safe people in their schools.”