WI District Bars Teachers From Displaying Pride Flags & Using Pronouns in Emails

Recently, a superintendent in a Wisconsin district school system was interviewed announced a policyThis allows the school board restrict employees from supporting LGBTQ community members at their work place.

Superintendent Stephen Plum announced the reinterpretation and revision of an existing policy at a school board session on July 26. The new interpretation forbids teachers and other administrative staff from expressing political or religious viewsat work, and prohibits actions such as wearing rainbow-colored clothing or displaying Pride flags.

Plum announced that school staff will be prohibited from including their pronouns within their email signatures. was posted on the district’s Facebook page.

The expression of such viewpoints “puts people in uncomfortable positions,” Plum said in trying to justify the policy update. Numerous school board members seemed to be open to the changes, with Jim Romanowski being the only one who was against them.

“I believe it is a huge mistake to think that we need to insulate our high school students from political expressions,” Romanowski said. “Our students are fully capable of exercising their critical thinking skills to sort through the noise of partisan politics and make up their own informed choices.”

Plum claimed that the policy is fair because it also bans expressions that show support for political figures, and prohibits imagery that includes the “thin blue line” flag. Notably, the “thin blue line” flag has been utilized by far right hate groupsIt is incomparable with imagery in support LGBTQ people, who are often the victims hate crimes by right-wing extremeists.

Cross necklaces are one example of a religious symbol. will still be allowed under the reinterpretation of the school policyPlum added.

A number of community members, alumni from the district, and former teachers spoke out against this updated policy. They claimed that it violates speech rights, and prevents teachers showing their LGBTQ students that they are valued and seen.

Trey Korte, a former educator at Kettle Moraine High School (KMHS), said that “as a gay married teacher who taught at KMHS for ten years,” the new policy makes him “incredibly angry and sad.”

“It looks like I made the right decision in leaving” the district, said Korte, who now teaches at a nearby high school. “You all have a responsibility for making ALL students AND staff feel safe, valued, and welcome. You are failing at this duty.”

Coral Heffron Neuhold, a queer graduate of Kettle Moraine in 2011, said that teachers were prohibited from sharing their pronouns via email. This was especially concerning.

“I don’t know if there are any trans members in the current staff, but I don’t know what the School Board would do if a trans staff member isn’t allowed to even show their pronouns in an email signature,” Heffron Neuhold said. “That’s awful.”

This policy comes as LGBTQ teachers and students are under attack across the country. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” lawA number of bill copies have been created throughout the United States to replace the ban on teachers discussing certain LGBTQ-related content. Some districts are meanwhile trying to deny students the right to have their correct pronouns or names recognizedOthers are banning trans students from joining sports teamsThey are aligned with their gender.

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