Target: Port Angeles School District Superintendent Jane Pryne
Goal: Prohibit teachers from displaying political messages on their clothing while at school and mandate additional sensitivity training on safe classroom environments
Few identities are so in flux as those of middle school students. Pre-teens and young teens are often the most susceptible to identity policing–which is why it’s so important that middle schools across the country serve as safe, compassionate environments for students to express and discover themselves. But one eight grade teacher in Port Angeles, Washington prioritized his political beliefs above the emotional wellbeing of his students, choosing to wear a button from a campaign against the ballot measure that legalized gay marriage.
The anti-equality button, which read “No on 74: one man + one woman = marriage,” clearly established this teacher’s classroom as an unsafe space for any LGBTQ+ students or students with same-sex parents. One student felt especially targeted by the button’s message. When she told her two mothers that her eighth grade teacher had displayed such a message in class, her parents knew it was time to take action. They have since been rallying against their daughter’s school district, demanding an apology from the teacher in question and urging district officials to rewrite policy so that K-12 teachers are prohibited from displaying hateful messages in class.
Lend your voice to the LGBTQ+ community of Port Angeles. Demand that K-12 classrooms be kept as safe environments for all kinds of children from all kinds of families by signing the petition below.
Dear Superintendent Jane Pryne,
All children deserve to feel safe at school. Bullying of any kind, whether actively or passively hostile, has no place in grade school classrooms. But when an eighth grade teacher at Steven Middle School wore an anti-marriage equality button to work, he intentionally made his classroom unsafe for children from alternative families.
Middle school is an especially sensitive time for pre-teens and young teenagers. So many victims of bullying are lost to suicide during these pivotal years–and so many of them are gay or questioning youth. Promoting an atmosphere of hostility against the LGBTQ+ community in a middle school classroom isn’t just unprofessional–it’s incredibly dangerous.
The teacher in question should be held responsible for his thoughtless actions. I urge you to demand an apology from this teacher, to rewrite policy making it explicitly clear that politicking is not permitted in K-12 classrooms, and to install additional sensitivity training for all teachers in your district. Help make your classrooms a safe space for each and every student in your district.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Joshua Trujillo via Seattlepi.com