During a discussion about appropriate decoration in schools, trustees of a Texas school district discussed whether a child had been disturbed by a poster showing “racially colored hands.”
The exchange, first reported by Texas’s ABC13, took place at an August 1 meeting of the Conroe Independent School District board of trustees. During that conversation, about the “presence of personal ideology in schools,” some trustees raised concerns about classroom decorations—namely those with rainbows and a poster about racial inclusivity.
Trustee Melissa Dungan told the board that she’d received complaints about signage in classrooms.
“Since November, a number of parents have reached out to me regarding individual concerns regarding what I believe to be a growing trend in our schools: a trend that allows personal ideologies to be posted on walls and hallways and sometimes verbalized in our classroom settings,” Dungan said. “I wish I was shocked about each of the examples that were shared with me, however I am aware that these trends have been happening for many years.”
Asked for an example of a complaint, Dungan cited “a poster that shows ‘all belong here’ with racially colored hands (this is an example that was first brought to me early this year) where I think the intention of the poster was good, and I think the parent thought the intention of the poster was good.
“However the unintended consequences of that poster made the first grader be like ‘wait, why wouldn’t I be accepted here?’ It had a reverse effect on the first grader because it was in the classroom.”
She claimed the child was moved to a different classroom. “In order to avoid situations like that, maybe we as a board could adopt some standards, guidelines,” Dungan said.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Conroe ISD said the poster did not violate any rules.
“No, the poster you reference is not in violation of Conroe ISD policy and no administrators have been directed to remove posters of this type,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “Individual board members speak for themselves and not for the Board or District.”
Dungan and another board member suggested that the school could not display content that was not in curriculums, and that flags (other than the Texas or U.S. flag, or flags relating to school curriculums) might violate state law.
“Are you talking about rainbows?” another board member asked?
“Not specifically rainbows, but some of them are,” a colleague replied, referencing complaints about LGBTQ pride decorations.
Texas has been a hotspot for legislation restricting LGBTQ expression in schools. A state senate bill with backing from Texas’s lieutenant governor, would enact sweeping bans on the discussion of gender and sexual orientation in K-12 classrooms.
Meanwhile LGBTQ students and teachers have already decried crackdowns on expression in Texas. Hundreds of students in Irving, Texas walked out in 2021 after the administration scraped rainbow stickers off campus. Two teachers were later asked to take down gay pride flags, NBC reported. The state is also at the forefront of anti-transgender legislation, specifically targeting children. New state laws bar minors from access to gender-affirming care, while directives from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have threatened child-abuse investigations into parents of transgender children. Some Texas families with transgender children have fled the state, Texas Monthly reports.
A dissenting Conroe trustee suggested removing posters like the one Dungan described was “a slippery slope.”
“I’ve been in classrooms where I’ve seen biblical quotes. I’ve seen ‘thou shalt not kill,’” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff that comes directly from the Bible. No one’s jumping up and down about that, but that could be deemed offensive to many folks. So are we to go into each classroom and rid—because I guarantee you, if we did that, we’d have a whole ‘nother uproar.”