The LGBTQ+ community has had to deal with endless criticism when it comes to discussing topics of sexuality and gender in schools.
And now a school board has banned teachers from discussing these issues, as well as displaying the pride flag, as it is deemed too political...
The LGBTQ community is stronger than ever...Since the annual observance of LGBT History Month began in the U.S. in 1994, the growth and acceptance of this community has been absolutely staggering.
LGBTQ identifying people are prouder than ever before...
via: ShutterstockAnd, because of the growing numbers of barriers being broken down, more and more people are coming out openly and proudly as LGBTQ.
But discrimination still lurks...
via: ShutterstockDespite amazing development, an array of narrow-minded individuals who spread constant hatred and fear amongst this community are still in existence.
Discrimination comes in many different forms.
via: ShutterstockWhether it's in the form of cyber-bullying or in the form of a violent physical act, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is rife... but never the less, no type of discrimination is okay.
These hate crimes are happening all over the world and it's not okay...
via: ShutterstockIt's a heartbreaking reality that hate crimes against the community still happen.
Education is key...
via: ShutterstockIt is common knowledge that those who discriminate against and abuse members of the LGBTQ community are often uneducated on the topic, and are lashing out against something unfamiliar to them.
And this is why education on the topic is so important...
via: ShutterstockThe more people that are educated about the community, the fewer hate crimes and attacks there will be against LGBTQ+ identifying people.
But it is a sad reality that no matter what, there will always be people out there who are against the community...
via: Getty ImagesAnd one school is a prime example of this.
A teacher in Nevada has been told she can't promote anything the school deems as political in her classroom...
via: FacebookIncluding displaying a pride flag.
Jennifer Leja, who is bisexual, teaches 7th and 8th grade and is the only openly LGBTQ teacher at her school.
via: TikTok"I usually have a flock of 7th and 8th graders who are trying to learn who they are and how they identify, and they come towards me," she said.
Over her five years of teaching, she has always displayed rainbow flags and has quite the collection of rainbow paraphernalia given to her by her students.But out of the blue, the school board told her this is no longer acceptable...
The new policy brought out by Washoe County School District states that "partisan political activities" are banned at the school.
via: TikTokIt says: "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."
After reading the policy Leja reached out to ask if LGBTQ issues would be classed as political.
via: TikTokAnd wondered if she would even be able to mention she has a girlfriend to her students.
Shockingly, they replied that LGBTQ issues were included in the policy.
via: FacebookThe email said: "The courts have held LGBTQ+ issues to be political speech and thus, the rainbow flag [is considered] to be political speech, so it cannot be expressed through clothing and other means, such as displaying a flag in your class."
Although she was allowed to talk about her own sexuality and her partner.
via: Facebook"Who you are is not impacted by this policy, only what is expressed in class through visual aids," they said.
But the pride flag represents who she is as a person...
via: Facebook"The issue that I have with it is, I don’t think my existence and my identity is a political issue," she said. "I think that being able to have a rainbow flag is as much a part of my identity as anything else."
via: Facebook"It’s legal in every state to get married; it’s legal for LGBT people to exist in this country right now, so I don’t see how it's a political issue."
Leja is also concerned for her students who are figuring themselves out...
via: Facebook"It’s important for me because I feel like there are students who spend their lives in the closet and especially in middle school; that is when students are starting to figure out where they are," she said. "They go through that time period where they don’t know who they are or what they like."
She wants her students to know they can come to her for support and without judgment.
via: TikTokAccording to the policy, all students are free to express their political stances, it's just teachers who aren't.
Leja posted about the issue on TikTok and received a lot of support from other TikTokers."It started off in my first year of teaching with just a rainbow flag; pretty much all of the rainbows added since then have been students giving me rainbow gifts," she said.
The policy doesn't just include LGBTQ issues, but "other kinds of speech such as Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, NRA, etc."
via: Tiktok"It is inappropriate for the District as a government entity to select only speech it agrees with. As a result, it is in the best interests of our learning communities to ask staff to refrain from all single-issue political speech," they said.
The policy is based on the US Supreme Court's Janus decision from 2018.
via: Facebook"I want to be abundantly clear, the policy does not require staff to hide their own sexuality. Teachers can let students know their sexuality, or mention their significant others, if they wish, regardless of sexuality. The policy does not impact who a teacher is, it only impacts the advocacy for a specific political position."