SALEM, Ore. — A new rule adopted by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will bar certain hate symbols — namely swastikas, nooses, or Confederate flags — broadly within school districts across the state.
The State Board of Education unanimously passed the temporary administrative rule, called "All Students Belong," in a meeting on Thursday.
ODE said that the decision came from students "as a response to the increasing number of incidents impacting their ability to access education in Oregon’s schools."
“Our students called us out and into action,”said ODE Director Colt Gill. “The Oregon Department of Education is committed to ensuring that Oregon’s schools are safe and inclusive for all students and staff, and the All Students Belong rule is an important step in that process. The noose, Confederate flag and swastika are being used to bully and harm students and staff, and this is particularly true for students of color. Students must feel like they are safe and belong in their own schools if they are to learn, work and grow to their fullest potential. It is our responsibility to make sure that all of our school communities feel safe and welcomed, and we support youth to set a moral standard.”
The rule requires districts to adopt and implement policies that prohibit the display of these symbols in any program or school-sponsored activity, except when used in teaching curriculum "aligned with the Oregon State Standards." It applies to both in-person and distance learning.
While a temporary version of the rule goes into effect immediately, with districts asked to have policies in place by January 1 of 2021, ODE said that a permanent rule will be introduced in a few months.
“Our goal is to create stronger and safer school communities,” Gill said. “Removing these symbols is an important step in making sure that Oregon schools are for everyone, no exceptions. All students belong.”
According to ODE, most districts already have some non-discrimination policies in place for bias incidents that involve hate symbols or speech.