Elementary School in Pence’s DC Neighborhood Decides Gay Flag Is Too Political

The school needs "to be mindful of wading into political waters," the principal writes.
Elementary School in Pence’s DC Neighborhood Decides Gay Flag Is Too Political
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Lafayette Elementary School in DC has taken down a rainbow flag because its principal is wary of “wading into political waters.” The school is located in Chevy Chase, the Northwest neighborhood where Mike Pence is living while he awaits installation as vice president, and where his temporary neighbors are conspicuously displaying rainbow flags to protest Pence’s consistently anti-gay stances over the years.

The school received the flag as a “gift from the neighborhood” and displayed it, Lafayette Principal Carrie Broquard wrote in a note to parents sent Monday. However, “Given the current political landscape, our commitment is to remain neutral,” she writes. “In order to avoid any unwanted attention or to have any symbols misinterpreted as a political action, the flag has been removed.”

The rainbow flag has become such a mainstream symbol in this region, comparable to flying an Irish flag on St. Patrick’s Day, that it’s a little odd to think of it in 2016 as such a freighted political symbol. And yet here we are. Broquard’s full note to parents includes a list of ways the school plans to celebrate its “commitment to inclusivity”  in the absence of the flag. Here’s the note:

Dear Lafayette Families –
You may have noticed that over the weekend a rainbow flag was hung from the Lafayette sign as a gift from the neighborhood. As a public school, we welcome all students and families of all identities. We at Lafayette pride ourselves on our diversity and our inclusivity, including but not limited to LGBQT families.

While Lafayette and DCPS are committed to diversity and inclusivity, we also need to be mindful of wading into political waters. Given the current political landscape, our commitment is to remain neutral. In order to avoid any unwanted attention or to have any symbols misinterpreted as a political action, the flag has been removed.  However, our commitment to inclusivity remain strong. The following are ways that we are celebrating over the next week:

– “We Are Lafayette” lunch assemblies hosted by myself and the student council. We will celebrate the many languages, nations, and cultures that are represented here at Lafayette.

– “We Are Lafayette” poster that was sent home last week. Families are encouraged to create a drawing that represents what makes you such a special contribution to our Lafayette family. We will compile all the posters and create a visual display representing all of us – “We Are Lafayette.”

– Daily messages of inclusion, kindness, and understanding through our Peace Class and Peace Club.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously the news editor and lead media reporter for the Poynter Institute, arts editor for the now completely vanished TBD.com, and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.