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Hate Symbols Ban Passes House

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J Holsey Photography
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Black Lives Matter group in Hereford holds a protest last summer.

Legislation that would ban hate symbols like swastikas, Confederate flags and nooses at public schools statewide moved into the Senate Monday, after passing overwhelmingly last week in the House of Delegates.

The House vote, 121-12, came after some Republicans questioned whether clothing supporting former President Donald Trump could be considered a hate symbol after the January 6 insurrection at the national Capitol in Washington.

“I’m still concerned about some of the comments that have been made about January 6 and if anything has anything to do with Trump that’s inciting violence,” Del. April Rose, a Carroll County Republican said at a House Ways and Means Committee meeting last week.

“If a kid comes to school with a MAGA hat or a MAGA T-shirt over the next year or two, I don’t want them being marginalized.”

The committee’s vice chair, Prince George’s County Democrat Alonzo Washington, assured her that wouldn’t happen.

“It’s not covering any candidates, any political parties, anything like that,” Washington said.

Rose voted for the bill on the House floor.

The legislation would require school systems throughout the state to have a ban in place by the end of this year.

Several systems in Maryland, including Anne Arundel, Howard and Carroll counties, already have a ban on hate symbols. Most do not. Baltimore County’s school board is considering a hate symbols ban proposal.

The bill allows a student the chance to cover up or remove a hate symbol. Also, language was added that said a hate symbol has to have a “reasonable forecast for disruption.”

The idea for the bill came from a mostly white Black Lives Matter group in the Hereford area of rural Baltimore County. Democratic Delegate Michele Guyton is a member of that group and proposed the legislation. Students at Hereford High School say hate symbols, especially Confederate flags, are commonplace.

Guyton’s three sons are Hereford High School graduates. In an interview with WYPR earlier this year, Guyton said her sons “have through the years expressed a lot of these problems to me and brought it to my attention that it was really upsetting to them to see these symbols.”

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