A young teacher in Missouri decorated his classroom with a pride flag, and when he was told to remove it, he chose to resign instead.
Via NBC News:
John M. Wallis, 22, who taught speech, theater and world mythology, said he hung a rainbow Pride flag in his classroom at Neosho Junior High School on the first day of school to create a welcoming environment for all students — and he said students noticed.
“I had, on the first day, about five students that came up to me and thanked me,” he said. “They said: ‘Thank you for having the flag up. I wouldn’t know where else to go.’”
But just two days later, on Aug. 26, Wallis said, he was called into a meeting with administrators, who told him that a parent had called and expressed concern that Wallis “would potentially teach their child to be gay.”
Wallace explained what went down on the day he resigned:
Easily the worst day I’ve had in a long time. I would really appreciate some good vibes and pics of pets! At the beginning of the school year, I had two signs above my whiteboards that read “In This Classroom EVERYONE is Welcome” and an LGBTQ+ pride flag on my bookshelf. This was an attempt to make my classroom more open and welcoming for all of my students, and nothing was ever taught about the flag because it stood there as a reflection of my classroom as a safe space for my LGBTQIA+ students. A parent called last week to complain that I was going to teach their child to be gay. I was then instructed to take my flag and signs down. In fact, the use of the pride flag in my classroom was compared to hanging the confederate flag in my classroom. his of course prompted students to ask why, and I answered truthfully while expressing that, if students had a problem with who I was, there were other open classes. This led to three or more calls from parents accusing me of pushing my agenda in the classroom. I was then asked to sign a letter that stated I would not discuss human sexuality or my own personal sexuality in the classroom and could have no displays or coursework on those subjects. This action was the reason for my resignation. Let me be clear, I had every intention of staying with this district for years to come, but this was too much to handle. Indeed, it appears that there is a different set of rules if you are an LGBTQ+ educator. Neosho has no mention of gender identity or sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy, and that is disconcerting enough. Couple that with a policy banning anything that expresses part of me in the classroom, and it makes for a hostile work environment. There is never a problem when a heterosexual teacher displays pictures of themselves and their spouses in a classroom, but I have a flag and all hell breaks loose. This experience has helped me realize that this is clearly not a place for me. It has also opened my eyes to see two specific people (who I’ve known for almost 10 years) in a completely different light than before. My administrators chose to believe the bigotry of parents over their building’s teacher. To say I am devastated is an understatement. To my fellow teachers at NJHS, I am sorry to be leaving so quickly and under these circumstances. To my students, I still love you and wish you the best with your new teacher. To the parents, I hope your children know just how special they are. Goodbye, Neosho
He also asked for pet pics, so be sure to send him a note on his Twitter! We’re sure a teacher this thoughtful will land somewhere great very soon!
Image: Sharon McCutcheon