High school teacher forced to remove 'COEXIST' flag as Ron DeSantis celebrates 'Don’t Say Gay' law

High school teacher forced to remove 'COEXIST' flag as Ron DeSantis celebrates 'Don’t Say Gay' law

In Florida, the Parental Rights in Education Act of 2022 — often slammed by its many opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” law — has created an environment of fear in public schools and classrooms, which is exactly what far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis was hoping for. And in Sarasota County, Florida, high school social studies teacher Jeremy Baldwin has been forced to remove a “COEXIST” flag with rainbow colors from his classroom.

Baldwin, according to Nexstar Media Wire reporter Allyson Henning, kept the flag in his classroom because he wanted to “make sure students feel comfortable and welcome in his classroom.” The teacher told Nexstar, “It is just something that’s meant to be there and kind of give the room an ambiance that everyone is welcome and we are just going to get along and coexist.”

But after keeping the “COEXIST” flag in his classroom for four years, Baldwin has removed it after being told it was “political” in nature. This comes not long after DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law.

Baldwin told Nexstar, “I know the law says nothing about ‘don’t say gay,’ but in action, it sure looks like it is ‘don’t say gay’ if right after that is passed, a flag I have had for four years is now suddenly asked to be removed because it is considered political. Other than being told that it was political by my principal, no one will define why that rainbow flag is considered political.”

Some students at Sarasota County’s Booker High School, where Baldwin teaches, were sorry to see the “COEXIST” flag removed from his classroom.

Baldwin told Nexstar, “The biggest question I got from my students was, ‘Why is that political? That is not Republican, that is not Democrat.' It’s not trying to persuade anyone to believe one way or another, it’s just a show of acceptance and approval. That is what is the most frustrating.”

Thomas Edwards, a school board member in Sarasota County, disagrees with the decision to have Baldwin remove the “COEXIST” flag.

Edwards told Nexstar, “I know that the policy is being cited about it being political, but I don’t view the rainbow flag as political. I view that as an identity, which is not a political item.”

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