Last week for the web, Jasmine Gallup wrote about the Wake County preschool teacher who resigned right before local Republicans turned flash cards depicting diverse families that she had displayed in her classroom into a national spectacle. We got some feedback from readers, some of it focused on something the teacher wasn’t actually doing—namely teaching human sexuality to preschoolers. But reader Samuel Sutton has a unique take:

Your article, “Wake County Teacher Resigns Amid LGBTQIA+ Flashcard Controversy,” probably received a lot of feedback. I’m sure most of it was readers agreeing/disagreeing based on their personal beliefs, however my take objectively speculates on the rules of government institutions and individual beliefs. For instance, it’s heavily argued that there should or should not be a separation between church and state, so should there also be a separation between gender/sexual-orientation beliefs and state? A lot of people might find a contradiction in allowing one over the other. Your article clarifies that the state does not want teachers expressing their opinions in the classroom, but it also suggests the state should allow it. If it does, what are the implications? At what point do public school instructors’ personal opinions become unacceptable, dangerous, or imposing?

The bottom line is that Ballentine Elementary is a public school and public schools should be adhering to the standards of the government, which seems to be … no personal opinions expressed. And the extremely dividing topic of sexual orientation and gender are certainly still considered personal beliefs in terms of public education. I say if a teacher wants to champion their social/political/religious beliefs in a classroom, then they should probably seek employment in an environment where that is accepted. The Christians have their schools, there’s the whole Montessori thing, the homeschoolers have their houses, and I imagine there are schools that allow for LGBTQIA+ positivity in their classrooms. But, when it comes to government education, teachers are going to have a difficult time trying to express personal beliefs in the classroom, even if it’s something as simple and unassuming as flashcards.”

So public school teachers should never acknowledge, much less seek to represent, diverse family structures (of which some of their students are certainly a part) lest they be accused of “championing their social/political/religious beliefs in a classroom”?

Counterpoint: A person’s gender or sexual orientation is not a social/political/religious belief and human sexuality—the very existence of it—is not inherently sexual.

Gallup has more reporting on this story, and the state’s newly proposed, unfortunate “Don’t Say Gay” bill this week. 

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