A Denver Public School parent is suing the district, claiming the district's policy allowing pride flags to be displayed discriminates against students who are heterosexual and cis-gendered.
The father who filed this lawsuit, Nathan Feldman, argues his two elementary school children who attend the K-8 Slavens School are being prohibited from exercising their freedom of speech among other allegations after failed attempts to have a "straight pride flag" displayed at school.
The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 10, 2022. It states that back in October 2022, Feldman began emailing the school questioning why pride flags were displayed beside the doors of his children's classrooms. Feldman allegedly told his students' teachers those flags are "not inclusive of all Slavens School students and only represent one viewpoint on the topic of sex."
He asked if an identically sized flag, representing his children's views on the same topic, could be put up on display as well. He provided an example of a "straight pride" flag, which was shown in the lawsuit.
According to the suit, the teachers did not respond to his request to put the flag up.
After voicing additional concerns throughout the month, the Slavens School principal allegedly issued an email to Feldman citing a district policy that supports "the right of its employees to put rainbow flags or other signs of support for LGBTQIA+ students and staff," and told Feldman the displays are consistent with the district's equity-based curriculum.
The lawsuit alleges the principal also told Feldman that "DPS doesn't allow for other flags."
In addition to the district, the suit lists the school board, Superintendent Alex Marrero, Slavens School principal Kurt Siebold and other faculty and teachers as defendants.
CBS News Colorado has been following the lawsuit for several weeks and has made numerous attempts to reach both Feldman and his attorneys on the lawsuit but has not heard back.
Feldman is suing for $3 million, claiming his children have suffered irreparable harm being deprived of their "First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as Mr. Feldman and/or his children's federal statutory right to be free from discrimination on the basis of her viewpoint and his membership in one of more protected classes, including the protected class of sex."
A DPS spokesperson sent the following statement to CBS News Colorado:
"Denver Public Schools has not been served with a lawsuit on this topic. Since we haven't seen the lawsuit and because our practice is to not comment on possible or pending litigation, we are not able to speak about the topic."
Former DPS school board member Auon'tai Anderson also issued a statement in response to the lawsuit:
"As the outgoing Vice President of the Denver School Board, I stand firm in our unwavering support for our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and community members. The recent federal lawsuit challenging the display of Pride flags in our classrooms is not only a departure from the values we hold dear in Denver Public Schools but also appears to be a disheartening deviation from the real issues at hand.
For years, Denver Public Schools has been a leader in inclusivity, striving to create an environment where every student, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, feels safe, respected, and valued. The display of Pride flags is a visual and symbolic representation of this commitment. It is a message to our LGBTQIA+ students that they are not alone, that their school is a place where they can be themselves without fear of discrimination or exclusion.
It's troubling to see this commitment being challenged in a manner that seems less about genuine concern for equitable treatment and more about a potential financial gain. This lawsuit, demanding punitive damages, suggests motivations that diverge from the interests of our student body. Moreover, the issue raised has never been a significant concern within our community until now. This sudden escalation, revolving around a symbol of inclusion and support, indicates a misunderstanding of what these flags represent.
Pride flags do not diminish the rights or presence of other students; rather, they elevate our collective commitment to a school culture that embraces diversity and fosters empathy and understanding among all students. The suggestion that their display is equivalent to divisive or hateful symbols is a false equivalence and undermines the ongoing efforts to support marginalized communities within our schools.
In conclusion, it is my hope that Denver Public Schools remains steadfast in its mission to provide a nurturing and inclusive environment for all students. This lawsuit is a distraction from our core values and our dedication to the well-being of every member of our school community. Denver Public Schools focus must always be on creating a safe, welcoming, and affirming space for all our students, and I will continue to support our LGBTQIA+ students in every way I can."
Feldman is being representing by Michael Yoder and Chad J. LaVeglia with Yoder LaVeglia LLP , a constitutional law practice based in Washington D.C. that has been involved in numerous cases targeting issues on vaccine mandates and planned parenthood, among others.
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