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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Protesters gathered at a Missouri high school after a principal asked teachers to remove gay pride flags from their classrooms just as the school year was beginning.

Two protests were held Monday at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, where teachers were told last week to remove the pride flags because of a school district policy on employee speech and conduct, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

One protest was organized by Brett Baxley, a drag artist from Springfield who graduated from the district in 2018.

Baxley said removing pride flags from the classroom may embolden those trying to marginalize LGBTQ students under the guise of trying to “de-politicize things.”

Kickapoo Principal Bill Powers asked “a handful” of teachers at the school to remove the flags from their classrooms last week, and everyone complied. District spokesman Stephen Hall said the request was made after the issue was brought to Powers’ attention.

Hall said Powers followed board policy by asking teachers to remove the flags from their classrooms.

Hall did not immediately return a message Tuesday asking what specifically prompted the request.