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Wisconsin School District Bars Employees from Pride Flags and Preferred Pronouns

The Root 8/4/2022 Kalyn Womack
Photo: rawrf8 (Shutterstock) © Photo: rawrf8 (Shutterstock) Photo: rawrf8 (Shutterstock)

The Kettle Moraine School District of Wisconsin decided to bar their employees from displaying pride flags in classrooms or displaying their preferred pronouns in email signatures, according to The Associated Press. Superintendent Stephen Plum claims the new decision is simply a reinforcement of established policies.

The policy Plum is referring to prohibits staff from using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views, personal propaganda or monetary gain, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. What does this have to do with a pride flag? Your guess is as good as mine.

Teachers and administrators are also prohibited from displaying signs reading Black Lives Matter or We Back the Badge (basically, Blue Lives Matter). The district announced the move via Facebook July 27, drawing criticism from both staff and students.

More on the ban from AP News:

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 disallowing pride flags.

“When you remove something that had been there awhile that represented a marginalized group, when you take that away, it does make people feel unwelcome,” Korte told The Associated Press Wednesday.

Critics said the ban conflicts with the school district’s motto “Learning Without Boundaries,” as promoted on its website.

Kettle Moraine School Board President Gary Vose backed the decision.

“This isn’t a case where we’re trying to discriminate against any group or groups for that matter, but rather just to bring clarity to allow staff to know where the line is drawn on these various things. It’s not a popularity contest. Regardless of what we do here, we’re going to have some that are going to love it, some that are going to hate it. Regardless of that, I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m fully behind it,” Vose said.

America is returning back to a society where people can only be themselves in silence. Somehow, sexuality and valuing Black life have become a political playground when it’s really just about people feeling safe and seen.

Two queer students at Kettle Moraine High School have already begun a petition in opposition to the ban. It already has gathered 1,500 signatures. The two said they already walk in the hallways of their school in fear because they’ve experienced “hateful” and “homophobic” comments.

“A pride flag is not a political thing, loving someone is not political. Think of all the students/kids who are scared to go home because they don’t have the support of their families, but when they walk into to school and their teacher has a pride flag hanging on the wall, they finally feel safe and supported,” read the petition.

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