MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Wisconsin school district’s decision to tell bar workers to display gay pride flags in classrooms or put their favorite pronouns in email signatures has sparked pushback from students, alumni and others, while the superintendent said he was merely reaffirming a policy that was already in place.
Kettle Moraine School District Superintendent Stephen Plum recently told the school board that the district’s interpretation of a policy that prohibits staff from using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views and propaganda at personal, monetary or non-monetary purposes changed as a result of legal analysis, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Plum said teachers and administrators are prohibited from displaying political or religious messages in their classrooms or on their person, including gay pride flags and Black Lives Matter and We Back the Badge signs. . Staff also may not say in emails what their preferred pronouns are.
The district posted the decision on its Facebook page on July 27, drawing hundreds of comments, most of them opposing the decision.
Trey Korte, who is gay and taught English at Kettle Moraine High School from 2009 to 2019, said he was angry and sad about the policy banning pride flags.
“When you take out something that was there for a while that represented a marginalized group, when you take that out, it makes people feel unwanted,” Korte told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Critics said the ban conflicts with the school district’s motto “Learning Without Boundaries,” as promoted on its website.
“We live in a world where politics is pushed forward, and that puts people in awkward positions. I think the staff can fully support the students. I think every staff member, caretaker and teacher needs to know that it’s really in the best interests of the students to look out for them and have strong, healthy relationships that come with that,” Plum told the school board during a meeting. a meeting on July 26. .
Kettle Moraine School Board President Gary Vose supported the decision.
“This is not a case of us trying to discriminate against any group or groups for that matter, but rather just providing clarity to let staff know where the line is drawn on these various things. It’s not a popularity contest. No matter what we do here, some will love it, some will hate it. Regardless of that, I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m fully behind that,” Vose said.
Two Kettle Moraine High School students, Bethany Provan and Brit Farrar, started an online petition against the ban, which had generated nearly 1,400 signatures on Wednesday.
The petition said pride flags can help students “feel safe and supported” and that instead of banning teachers from using their preferred pronouns in email signatures, schools should teach students what are the pronouns.
“You use them in everyday life. Is it therefore a crime for our teachers to say what they would like to be referred by? says the petition.
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