Under a new law, Texas public schools must display posters that say “In God We Trust” if they are donated to a campus. But when a parent offered signs written in Arabic and rainbow colors, they were rejected.
Texas passed a law last year that requires public schools to display the national motto if the signs are received as donations or purchased with donated money.
The Carroll Independent School District, an affluent, largely white district, last month received a shipment of signs with the motto emblazoned on a blue background above the U.S. flag, according to the Dallas Morning News. They were reportedly donated by Patriot Mobile, a Christian conservative wireless provider that helped to elect conservatives to school board seats in the area.
The Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition, a group of current and former Carroll ISD students “demanding systemic, anti-racist change” in the district, however, is pushing back against the law ― and testing out its boundaries.
Sravan Krishna, a parent in Southlake who worked with the coalition, attempted to donate the signs in Arabic and with rainbow designs at a board meeting on Monday.
“We will have to look at what remedies we have so we don’t get excluded from our public schools,” Krishna said. “We deserve to be included in these efforts as well.”
Board president Cameron Bryan declined the posters, saying that the district had already accepted enough signs to display the motto at all of Carroll’s campuses.
The law does not mention a limit on donated signs. It says the sign must be framed or on durable poster board and must include an American flag ― conditions which Krishna’s signs met.
“By putting signs around the school with religious messaging, they are forcing religion onto what should be a secular environment,” the anti-racism group said in a social media post. “The school is also making several students uncomfortable with what the words imply. We should all have a say on what gets hung up at our school, and we shouldn’t have to sit by idly and watch how these new rules are making fellow students feel like they don’t belong.”
Carroll ISD has been a hotbed for controversy in recent years. The U.S. Department of Education opened a civil rights probe into it last year to investigate complaints about discrimination against students based on their race, gender and national origin.
Southlake is also at the center of a political firestorm over school curriculum and books on race, gender and sexuality that some conservatives have falsely conflated with critical race theory.