A Wisconsin school district has banned employees from having pride flags in their classrooms, as well as putting their preferred pronouns in their email signatures, according to the Huffington Post. The decision has received pushback from students, alumni and others.
Kettle Moraine School District Superintendent Stephen Plum recently informed teachers and administrators they cannot display political or religious messages in their classrooms or on their person. This includes gay pride flags as well as Black Lives Matter and We Back the Badge signs. They may also not disclose their preferred pronouns in emails.
Plum used a new interpretation of a policy that was already in place, one that prohibits staff from using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views and propaganda for personal, monetary or non-monetary gain, as the reasoning behind the decision.
Two Kettle Moraine High School students, Bethany Provan and Brit Farrar started an online petition in opposition to the ban. It had generated nearly 1,400 signatures by Wednesday (August 3). The petition argues the flag helps students "feel safe and supported" and that schools should teach students about pronouns rather than bar teachers from using them in their email signatures. “You use them in everyday life. So is it a crime for our teachers to say what they would like to be referred by?” the petition reads.
Plum, on the other hand, disagrees. “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,” Plum told the school board on July 26.