The Tennessee Capitol is seen, Jan. 8, 2020, in Nashville,...

The Tennessee Capitol is seen, Jan. 8, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee would become the latest state to require public school students to watch a video on fetal development produced by an anti-abortion group, or something comparable, under legislation that is headed to Republican Gov. Bill Lee's desk. The GOP-dominated Senate passed the legislation Thursday, April 4, 2024. Credit: AP/Mark Humphrey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill designed to ban LGBTQ+ Pride flags in Tennessee public school classrooms was spiked Tuesday after it failed to attract enough support in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The proposal had easily cleared the Republican-dominant House nearly two months prior after the bill's sponsor said he had parents complain about “political flags” in classrooms.

However, the proposal dragged in the Senate as lawmakers debated possible changes and delayed debating the measure up until the final week of this year's legislative session.

“There were some parents in my district that felt like there were flags being displayed in the public school classroom that did not coincide with their values and felt like their children should not be indoctrinated in the schools,” said Republican Sen. Joey Hensley.

Ultimately, the Senate tweaked the bill to mandate that only the U.S. flag and official Tennessee state flag could be displayed in a public school. However, while the chamber agreed to the changes, the final vote failed to secure a simple majority inside the 33-member body with a 13-6 vote after almost no debate.

More than 10 senators declined to vote on the bill while three chose to vote “present.” Senate Speaker Randy McNally was the only Republican to join the five Democrats in voting against the proposal.

Republican-led states such as Tennessee have moved to increasingly limit LGBTQ+ topics in school classrooms and prevent teachers from affirming a child’s gender identity or pronouns. However, the effort has been mixed on banning LGBTQ+ Pride flags with similar proposals failing to gain traction this year in Utah and Florida.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to town, school, and school district officials across the U.S. who have implemented or are considering flag bans or other pride displays. The group warned that under First Amendment court precedent, “public schools may prohibit private on-campus speech only insofar as it substantially interferes with or disrupts the educational environment, or interferes with the rights of other students.”

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