Arrowhead Union High School committee debates eliminating 'safe space' signage, rainbow flags and more in new policy

NOW: Arrowhead Union High School committee debates eliminating ’safe space’ signage, rainbow flags and more in new policy

HARTLAND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Arrowhead Union High School District's Policy Committee spent the beginning of their Thursday, June 8 meeting debating a draft policy that aimed to ban "safe space" signage within the school, signs that currently designate teacher classrooms as safe spaces for students being bullied, including LGBTQ+ students.

A majority of the committee voted to take the measure to their legal department for a legal review, rather than moving it directly forward to the next school board meeting. They will also consult other nearby school districts, such as Kettle Moraine, Waukesha and Muskego, that have passed similar measures, to discuss how bullying was impacted as well as First Amendment challenges.

While not a total victory for those for or against, it does move the policy forward for deeper consideration.

The proposal aimed to encourage being "inclusive" by eliminating images that the policy described as "divisive," featuring rainbows, political statements and even most flags other than national and state flags.

Citing the intent to establish an equal, safe and impartial environment for all students, the policy would have banned signs or flags denoting division of race, ideology, sexual orientation, gender preference or political affiliations.

Some members of the committee said that making room to designate one area as "safe" might make others within the school appear as more unwelcoming, just as celebrating one group of people and not all students might do the same.

The policy, debated at length during the meeting, states in part: "No signage, or other wording implying that a certain area is a 'safe space,' or anything similar to this." It also notes, "Specifying certain areas as safe zones for some ... can create a feeling of isolation, division and estrangement."

Examples of prohibited items would include signs promoting Black Lives Matter, which the policy designates as "race dividing signage," rainbows, any signage promoting a sexual or gender preference, any flag other than the American flag, Wisconsin state flag or flag representing a language being taught, as well as political signage promoting one party or candidate over another.

Once the Arrowhead Union High School District's legal team has looked at the policy, as well as the consultations with other school districts that have passed similar measures, the policy will eventually make its way in front of the school board at a yet to be determined date.

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