Wisconsin school district bans teachers from displaying BLM, Pride symbols

The Kettle Moraine School Board in Wales, Wisconsin "prohibits staff from using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views, and propaganda for personal, monetary or nonmonetary gain."

Joshua Young North Carolina

On Tuesday night the Kettle Moraine School Board in Wales, Wisconsin voted to uphold a school policy that bans messages and flags like "Black Lives Matter" and the Pride flag from classrooms and prohibits teachers from writing their "preferred pronouns" in their identification.

According to the Associated Press, the ban was introduced in late July and the decision to exclude these contemporary slogans and images came from an interpretation of a Code of Conduct policy that was already in place that "prohibits staff from using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views and propaganda for personal, monetary or nonmonetary gain."

Kettle Moraine School District Superintendent Stephen Plum said the policy meant no BLM propaganda in classrooms, and no pride paraphernalia, but it also includes pro-police images and iconography as well. The policy also prevented employees from listing their preferred pronouns in emails.

According to local news, only board member Jim Romanowski voted "no" to upholding the policy with all the other members voting in favor of the measure.

In November of last year, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and Alliance Defending Freedom sued the Kettle Moraine School District in the Waukesha County Circuit Court over a school in the system's treatment of a 12-year-old female with gender dysphoria. The young girl had told her school that she was using "he/him" pronouns but the child's parents told the school that they were not to use "preferred pronouns." The school ignored the parents' request which prompted both the removal of the child from the system and the lawsuit.

The ban on Pride flags and preferred pronouns in the district was introduced at a school board meeting on July 26 of 2022.

Many parents voiced support for the measure at the board meeting that was held in a packed school library. Local news reports that one parent, Daniel C. of Delafield said, "The vast majority of us demand that our schools focus on teaching our kids and not on bringing divisive, politically charged issues into the classroom."

The ACLU, which recently came out in support of racial discrimination in college admissions, deployed a spokeswoman to the scene. ACLU lawyer Christine Donahoe said, "If you have a policy that says 'nothing political,' does that mean you can’t have a sign up that says, 'Support our Troops,' or 'Believe Women' or 'Save the Planet?' By some people’s definitions, all of those things are political." Donahoe said the policy was a targeted attack on LGBT communities and an effort to make spaces unsafe for "students of color."

Several students vocally opposed the policy, as one said, "Pride flags are not me taking a political stance. They are a statement saying I accept myself and others."

"The fact is, the majority of students don't want or need this, so catering to the minority only encourages the envelope to be pushed further," said another student.

The neighboring School District of Waukesha adopted a similar policy in the fall of 2021.

When the policy was first introduced, Superintendent Stephen Plum said, "We live in a world where politics are highlighted, and it puts people in uncomfortable positions. I feel the staff can fully support students. I feel that every staff member, custodian and teacher ought to know that it’s really in the best interest of the students to look out for them and to have strong, healthy relationships that develop therefrom."


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