Jeffrey Levy, an English language teacher at MS 51 in Brooklyn, told The New York Post that the principal, Neal Singh, told Levy that he was not allowed to wear the t-shirt in the school building. The t-shirt features an Israeli flag framed by the words 'Proud Zionist.' Singh also informed Levy that teachers and other staff members had complained about the shirt and a Back the Blue t-shirt he had worn previously.
Levy later filed a discrimination complaint over the ban on his shirt, stating: "Singh told me that my T-shirt with an Israeli flag on it and the words 'Proud Zionist' were '...politically explosive. He told me that Zionism involves the retaking of Palestinian land and is 'offensive.'"
Levy told The Post that he was not allowed to wear his shirt while other teachers were allowed to wear shirts supporting BLM and other "woke" movements. "Singh has permitted other staff to wear attire with 'Black Lives Matter,' 'Feminism is the radical idea that women are people,' 'Feminist' and [Supreme Court Justices] 'O’Connor & Ginsburg & Sotomayor & Kagan,'" Levy said.
In a statement, the Department of Education backed the principal, spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon said, "Schools are not public forums for advancing personal political views, and per Department of Education regulations, employees are prohibited from using schools for the purpose of political expression. This principal’s request followed complaints from students and staff and is consistent with policies around political neutrality in schools."
Dov Hikind, leader of the Americans Against Antisemitism group, sent a letter to the school’s chancellor, Meisa Ross Porter, saying that the district officials were "anti-Semitic ignorance" and "double standards." Hikind told the post, "How insulting. This is sick. This is pathetic. This is anti-Semitic. You can’t say you’re a proud Jew and supportive of the people and the state of Israel? [The city DOE is] representing the extreme left, the radical wing of the Democrat party. There should be one standard for all. But this is what’s going on in our city."
Similar incidents of schools censoring opposing opinions have also occurred recently, included a Washington State teacher who was forced to take down a Thin Blue Line flag from her classroom, despite other teachers being allowed to put up BLM and LGBTQ+ flags around the school.
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