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Neighbors erect large Pride flag after school bans LGBTQ, BLM signs

Supporting the flags and what they symbolize, the couple behind the project argue, is not political.
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Oregon residents built and erected a massive Pride flag that can be seen from the local high school after the school's board voted earlier this month to ban Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ and other “political” signs, flags and clothing from its campuses.

Newberg Public Schools, located about 20 miles southwest of Portland, passed the measure 4-3 on Aug. 10. Supporters of the ban said the signs would cause “more division and more anger,” while those opposed said such signs made students feel seen and helped comfort those who had been bullied.

A few days after the school board vote, local farmer Jaybill McCarthy shared his idea for a large Pride symbol on social media. It wasn’t long before donations poured in for supplies, and volunteers from across the state offered to help.

McCarthy and his wife, Erin, along with a group of volunteers gathered on the farm to build a massive 8-by-16-foot progressive Pride flag. The flag, painted on large pieces of plywood, was designed by Portland-based artist Daniel Quasar and incorporates the traditional rainbow Pride flag, along with additional colors to represent the transgender community and LGBTQ people of color.

The symbol was erected on a hilltop on the McCarthy farm, so it could be seen from Newberg High School.

"We wanted maximum visibility," Erin McCarthy told NBC News affiliate KGW. "The result is pretty amazing. We love it."

The McCarthys said supporting the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags — and what they symbolize — is not political.

“It’s not expressing a Democratic idea or Republican idea or conservative or liberal,” Erin McCarthy said. "It’s human beings.”

“It’s recognition that people exist,” Jaybill McCarthy added.

Their sentiment echoes that of a parent who attended the Aug. 10 Newberg School Board meeting. Tai Harden-Moore, a resident of the town and an adviser to the school's Black Student Union, said both her son and another Black student had been called a racial slur at school.

“Seeing a Black Lives Matter sign hanging in a classroom helped him identify which teachers were safe for him to talk to,” she said of the other student.

The McCarthys — who in addition to the Pride flag have the word "LOVE" written over a rainbow backdrop on their barn — said they want everyone to know they belong in the community.

“You are not alone,” Erin McCarthy said. “Even though this is difficult, there are people who are there for you.”

The Newberg School Board did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

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