A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by one Denver Public Schools father alleging his two children have been denied their First Amendment rights to have a "straight pride" flag in school may stand a chance in court.
"This is not a groundbreaking lawsuit. This is just a controversial lawsuit," said David Lane, a civil rights attorney based in Denver.
CBS News Colorado has been followingclosely, which was first filed back on Nov. 10 by two Washington D.C. lawyers, Mike Yoder and ChadLaVeglia. The lawsuit argues Nathan Feldman, a father of two children attending the K-8 Slavens School in Denver, was denied being able to put up a cisgendered, heterosexual flag at school. He says a "straight pride" flag represents his children's beliefs and should be allowed on campus in the same way LGBTQ+ flags are allowed.
A spokesperson for LGBTQ Colorado sent the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
A Pride flag is not meant to be exclusive – it is designed to be inclusive. It is meant to draw attention and humanity to people who historically have been considered "illegal", ostracized, excluded, and for too long quiet victims of discrimination and violence.
A Straight Pride Flag speaks "us vs them" wherein a Pride flag lifts up an "all of us" dynamic that recognizes the too often quiet and quieted LGBTQ+ community.
This lawsuit has riled up a lot of discussion and concern on social media, especially among the Slavens School community. Slavens' parents created a change.org petition supporting the school's teachers and inclusivity and calling for Feldman to stop the lawsuit.
"People are under the mistaken belief that offensive speech or hate speech is not protected speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has said the government doesn't get to choose and decide what is offensive, what is not offensive," said Lane. "If they're going to allow any political speech, they're going to have to allow all political speech of a related nature."
Lane states DPS, a government-funded school, is required to allow this expression of speech.
"As much as I may disagree politically with his position. I think First Amendment case law mandates that this school either eliminate LGBTQ flags and all flags of that nature or they allow him to fly whatever flag he wants," said Lane. "He is absolutely correct that this is a First Amendment violation.
A district policy established back in January 2020, supports the right of employees to post "rainbow flags or other signs of support for LGBTQIA+ students or staff."
Lane, however, argues this policy cannot prohibit other forms of expression under the First Amendment.
"A smart school district will either say, no we're not advertising political beliefs regarding sexual orientation in our schools," said Lane. "Or what's going to happen here is that if Denver loses this lawsuit, which they will, taxpayers are going to be on the hook for paying attorney's fees to these D.C. lawyers who filed the suit."
As of today, a spokesperson for Denver Public Schools says they still have not been served with the lawsuit.
Neither Feldman nor his attorneys have responded to multiple requests for comment.
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