Apparently, advocating for equality is not proper etiquette in remote learning.
A Texas high school English teacher's virtual classroom backdrop was recently put on blast on Facebook by Marian Knowlton, a Republican candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, who objected to the teacher displaying a Black Lives Matter poster and pro-LGBTQ+ messages.
The teacher, Taylor Lifka, has since been put on administrative leave by the Roma Independent School District in south Texas after several complaints were made following Knowlton's Facebook post, which has since been taken down.
A screen shot of Knowlton's original Facebook post.
"Many of you know that I am concerned about what the children of Texas are learning in our schools," Knowlton wrote in the post alongside a screen shot of Lifka's backdrop. "This is the virtual classroom that each student visits every day. They are welcomed by an LGBT 'diversity is welcomed' poster, a feminism poster that translates to 'Girlfriend, your struggle is my struggle,' a photo of radical protesters (one of whom looks like an ANTIFA member) and propaganda that promotes the radical marxist movement 'Black Lives Matter.' In addition, this teacher asks which pronoun they prefer!"
She continued, "Our education system has been radicalizing our children for years and it continues to do so, from elementary through higher education. This is not an isolated occurrence, it is a national pattern. A concerted effort to teach children what to think, not how to think. Leftist indoctrination."
Not long after Knowlton's post, Roma ISD said in a statement that "after reviewing the complaints, the district is working closely with the teacher to find a resolution that will ensure all parties involved reach an outcome that best benefits the expectations of our parents and needs of our students. The teacher is not being reprimanded in any way for her work or decisions."
However, it's been reported that Lifka was put on administrative leave. A Change.org petition has been launched by the South Texas Equality Project on Lifka's behalf.
"Ms. Taylor Lifka of Roma ISD was put on administrative leave after objections to her virtual classroom, for containing so-called political and divisive speech, including posters that read 'Black Lives Matter,' 'Amiga, tu lucha es mi lucha,' and 'Diverse, Inclusive, Accepting, Welcoming, Safe Space for Everyone' in rainbow colors," the Change.org petition reads.
"Please sign this petition to let the school district know that inclusivity and acceptance are not taboo ideas that deserve censorship; that high school students can and should be allowed to discuss the realities of the world instead of being sheltered inside a sanitized bubble; and that by reprimanding the teacher for trying to create a safe space for her students, the school is not being neutral, but is actively taking a stance that is antithetical to justice," the petition concludes.
Steven Cano, a representative of the Equality Project, told Texas TV station KVEO that Lifka did not seek the organization's help but the group decided to step in.
"I want to clarify that Ms. Lifka did not reach out to us; we want to bring awareness." he said. "In our current times, we are still in that struggle for that need for equality. Things have changed and LGBTQ students need to know that virtual classrooms are also a safe space."
Meanwhile, Knowlton said Wednesday morning that she deleted her original post after she was "trolled" and received "hateful comments," which she says is a "signature trait of the progressive socialist movement."
Roma ISD has released another statement following outcry from LGBTQ+ activists.
"Roma ISD will continue to promote ideals of equality, acceptance and fair treatment of all students and community members, regardless of their age, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation. The District has anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies in place. Additionally, the District strives to create an educational environment where every student feels safe and welcome. The District hopes to continue working with the teacher to resolve this issue," the statement reads.