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Wisconsin public school district affirms individual teacher’s rights

A Wisconsin public school district says teachers can’t display Pride materials or profess their pronouns in email signatures. Parents and students were frustrated with the process.



After a dramatic board meeting during which parents and students opposed the policy, a Wisconsin public school district has decided to keep its ban on teachers putting personal pronouns in email signatures or displaying Pride materials in classrooms.

The ban is based on a ten-year-old policy of the Kettle Moraine School District that prohibits “partisan politics, sectarian religious viewpoints, or selfish promotion.” Additionally prohibited by the new understanding is professors using their preferred pronouns in their email signatures.

In a board meeting in July where the rules were initially presented, superintendent Stephen Plum said, “We live in a society where politics are highlighted, and it puts people in uncomfortable situations.

According to Plum in July, the district forbids teachers from wearing other banners that are deemed politically controversial, including as those that support Black Lives Matter or Make America Great Again.

He suggested that a cross necklace would be acceptable. “I think discrete jewelry is okay.”

Only instructors and staff are subject to the political speech restriction; board members and students are not included.

After fervent community discussion and an hour of public comment at the board meeting, the policy was reviewed on Tuesday.

The majority of the speakers, including some students, were against the policy.

Abigail O’Connor, a district student who identified as gay, stated, “I know folks who can’t come out to their parents.” They search for acceptance at school since they are not welcomed at home. However, that acceptance is now gradually disappearing.

Bethany Provan and Brit Farrar, two other students, claimed they started a petition asking for a modification in the rules.

“(LGBTQ children) finally feel secure and supported when they walk into school and see that simple rainbow flag flying on the wall,” Provan added.

According to Farrar, the policy “sets students up for academic and societal failure and has negative impact on the community.”

Farrar stated that it was discriminatory to not know which pronouns instructors favored.

Instead of prohibiting teachers from using pronouns in their emails, Farrar suggested that we educate young people about pronouns, their significance, and the need for respect.

By early Friday, the petition established by the duo had gathered more than 13,000 signatures.

On Tuesday, one of the seven board members spoke against the rule. Jim Romanowski claimed that after hearing from community people, he felt the interpretation went too far.

The district claims to help all pupils, according to Romanowski. “The time is now to demonstrate it.”

Kelly Brown, a different board member, claimed that of the emails and phone calls she has gotten from both inside and outside the district, 80% of residents have supported the policy. She continued, “I’m good with the choice to keep the policy in place.

According to its website, the school system serves more than 3,500 students and manages 10 schools in Waukesha County.

Rebekah Riess from CNN contributed to this story.

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