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Teacher ordered to take down 'political' Thin Blue Line flag honoring her brother, a former cop — but Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ symbols are just fine

Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

A school district in western Washington state ordered a teacher to take down a pro-police Thin Blue Line flag in her classroom that honors her brother since it's a "political symbol" and could cause a "disruption" — yet Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ symbols and messages apparently are just fine, Jason Rantz of KTTH-AM reported.

What are the details?

Chris Sutherland — the brother of the unnamed teacher at Marysville Middle School, which is about 40 minutes north of Seattle — is a former officer who served with the Marysville Police Department and also was a school resource officer during a deadly high school shooting in the city, Rantz wrote.

Sutherland's sister initially placed a Thin Blue Line sticker on her laptop to honor her brother and other law enforcement officers, KTTH noted — but an assistant principal objected to the sticker.

Rantz — citing a human resources document on the incident — reported that the assistant principal had "concerns about how students, families, and community members might interpret what the image is intending to communicate, and that this interpretation may cause a disruption to the learning environment."

But the objections were soon dropped, KTTH reported.

The HR document added that the the teacher also displayed a Thin Blue Line flag on her classroom's bulletin board surrounded by photos of her brother, Rantz wrote.

Well, that prompted a second assistant principal to order the teacher to take down the flag, KTTH said.

"They told her that it's controversial to have that flag up," Sutherland told Rantz on his KTTH program. "That it makes kids and staff feel unsafe, which to me, that does not make sense at all."

Rantz added that an HR representative from Marysville School District 25 sent the teacher a letter of clarification about the issue indicating officials were "highly concerned about the impact of this political symbol on students, staff, and families of Marysville Middle School" and that there were "concerns from other staff members about how this political symbol might negatively impact the overall professional work environment."

Remove the flag!

The letter ordered the teacher to remove the flag and told her her to "refrain from using the 'Thin Blue Line Flag' symbol" in the classroom, KTTH said, adding that failure to do so "may result in further disciplinary action."

The district confirmed to the station that the situation is a personnel matter and wouldn't comment. Rantz added that while the letter of clarification said the district supports police, a district spokesperson wouldn't explain why a Thin Blue Line flag is banned for being political while Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ messages and symbols are allowed.

BLM, LGBTQ messages apparently are no problem

Sutherland told Rantz that his sister has seen BLM messages in classrooms and "hanging on walls, which she was told is OK. Just for whatever reason, just the Thin Blue Line flag cannot be hung up there." Rantz added that the teacher also displayed an LGBTQ pride flag to support a gay family member.

Yet, KTTH said, symbols of BLM and LGBTQ — which have political undertones — haven't been targeted by the district for removal.

Teacher takes down Thin Blue Line flag

Rantz said the teacher took down her Thin Blue Line flag display but told the district that the ordeal "has been the most traumatic and hostile" experience for her at the school to date.

She added that the order to remove the flag came from "an agenda rather than really wanting to gain any understanding of me, who I am, or my story," she added in respond to the HR rep, KTTH reported.

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