U.S. public school teachers are increasingly getting caught for bringing their own politics and sexuality into the classroom and sharing them with their students, seeking to make allies of their young charges and to turn them against school administrators, other students and their own parents.
At one Texas school, some students even walked out after pro-gay stickers distributed by a faculty member were confiscated, according to coverage by the pro-gay magazine People.
The teacher herself, Rachel Stonecipher, self-described in an interview with CBS11 as the school’s “only openly, very obviously gay teacher, lesbian teacher,” was removed from class last week and has not been seen back on campus since.
Students at the school, MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, staged a walk-out on Sept. 22 in response to the removal of LGBTQ “safe space” stickers, which serve to make parts of the school not so marked seem more threatening and unsafe.
Local news outlets WFAA and CBS11 showed hundreds of students protesting, some carrying rainbow flags and pro-LGBTQ signs, instead of taking part in a normal school day.
According to WFAA, teachers sponsoring the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club handed the stickers out this year only to see them disappear at the end of August.
“There’s a lot of hurt, confusion and fear from students who feel like the administration has a problem with them for being LGBTQ+,” said Stonecipher, the removed teacher and one of the sponsors of the club, at the time.
In a statement made following the protest, the Irving Independent School District said that “while educators have the right to express their personal viewpoints on their personal time,” they do not have the right to use classrooms for that purpose.
“In Irving ISD, our campuses are a safe zone for all students,” the statement says. “To ensure that all students feel safe regardless of background or identity, the district has developed guidelines to ensure that posters, banners and stickers placed in classrooms, hallways or offices are curriculum driven and neutral in viewpoint.”
After her removal, Stonecipher told CBS 11 that students “don’t need to be concerned about me,” and has insisted that the safe space stickers are not political.