A member of the neo-fascist group Proud Boys showed up on Monday to a Missouri school board meeting after local conservatives complained about a seventh-grade teacher who hung a small four-by-four-inch Pride flag in her classroom.
Complaints about the flag began after Daniel Ousley, the conservative alderman of Camdenton County, made a Facebook post alleging that an unnamed teacher hung the rainbow and transgender Pride flags in her classrooms.
“As citizens and tax payers of this fine county, we all need to ask ourselves why it’s not ok to fly a Christian flag at our public schools yet these flags are flowing,” Ousley wrote in a now-deleted September 7 post published in a Facebook group entitled Citizens for a Better Camden County.
Ousley also claimed that a teacher had “books with mature content” in their classroom that the teacher hadn’t read in full. It’s unclear if the teacher he referred to exists and, if so, whether they were the same teacher as the one who flew the rainbow flag.
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“Stop indoctrinating and grooming our kids!” Ousley’s post concluded.
Some commenters in the same Facebook group also accused educators of “grooming” children, essentially accusing LGBTQ-allies of trying to sexually abuse kids. Others in the same group said that the flag could help make scared, ashamed, and lonely LGBTQ kids feel accepted in their own school.
In a follow-up post published in the same Facebook group, Ousley said that the local school district should ban Pride flags from all classrooms, The Daily Dot reported.
On September 9, the president and superintendent of Camdenton R-III School District both signed a letter that said that district officials had “recently been made aware of certain items being displayed on campus that may contradict Board Policy.”
“For the time being, the items in question have been voluntarily removed from the learning environment until the Camdenton Board of Education can further review,” the letter said.
The district’s board of education met on Monday night to discuss the issue.
Twitter user Laura Burkhardt noted that at least one Proud Boy showed up to the meeting “with the intent to intimidate a teacher over a small pride flag in her classroom.”
Today the Proud Boys, dressed in hate symbols, showed up at the Camdenton School Board meeting (Missouri) with the intent to intimidate a teacher over a small pride flag in her classroom. #MoLeg #MoSen @MomsDemand @EnglishTeach07 https://t.co/eSuRRQrlSi pic.twitter.com/wMf1qdU5CQ
— Laura Burkhardt-Text ACT to 644-33 (@LauraAnnSTL) September 13, 2022
“What could this educator possibly have done to deserve so much hate, harassment, and intimidation?” Burkhardt asked in a follow-up tweet. “They had the audacity to have a 4 inch pride flag in their classroom in hopes of letting ALL students know that this classroom is a safe classroom. Oh the horror.”
Another Facebook user name Pat Nicklaus shared an old image that seemed to show Ousley posing next to at least three other Proud Boys and people holding flags touting their support for now-former President Donald Trump.
The Proud Boys have repeatedly harassed and attacked family queer events over the past year. In June, New Zealand declared the Proud Boys a terrorist organization. Its members have ties to anti-government militias, white supremacists, and insurrectionists who tried to overturn the 2020 U.S. election.