School sparks outrage by suspending kindergarten teacher for flying Pride flag

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A kindergarten teacher in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has been suspended for refusing to take down a Pride flag in her classroom.

Sarah Whaley received a formal reprimand from the the school district of Waukesha after refusing to take her flag down, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

When she refused, she was suspended for a day without pay, and the flag was removed in her absence.

Whaley said, according to the Sentinel: “I believe that school should be a safe place for our beautiful youth.

“I believe that children should be able to express their full selves and as teachers we should be fostering the welcoming environment that allows for that.

“The Progress Pride flag is one visual representation of that support for our students of colour and our LGBTQIA+ students.

“They (the school district) repeatedly pressured me to take down the flag and I told them I wouldn’t.”

The school district had previously banned any symbols or flags that show off “personal beliefs and convictions” from its classrooms. On 20 August, it issued a letter banning the use of Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or “any other posters or materials to the such” at schools.

The local teachers’ union responded to Whaley’s suspension by encouraging staff to wear rainbows on Friday, with this idea spreading to parents and students.

The school district clarified that it had not “sponsored, approved, or endorsed” the show of solidarity.

Carrie Kummrow, president of the Education Association of Waukesha, said in response to the school’s statement, per the Sentinel: “Supporting our LGBTQ staff and students is not politics, it is a human rights issue.”

In November, a bisexual teacher in Michigan resigned after being told to remove his Pride flag by the school board.

Russell Ball, along with multiple staff across the Michigan school district, were sent an email instructing them to remove any Pride flags from their classrooms.

Shortly after receiving the email, Ball resigned from his position as PE teacher at Three Rivers Middle School.

He explained that after being instructed to remove the flag, he refused to comply.

“I was not going to be an active participant in the suppression and oppression of an already marginalised group that I’m part of,” Ball said.

“The Pride flag stands for love, inclusion and equality… by removing it, I feel like I am being told that I am invalidated, that I don’t belong, and that’s not a message I want to send to myself or any of my students.”

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