In an English curriculum, students learn about pronouns as parts of speech. But teachers in a southeastern Wisconsin school district are now forbidden from using their pronouns in their email signatures, displaying Pride flags in their classrooms, or wearing rainbow attire, due to a perceived discomfort those may cause others.
According to Superintendent Stephen Plum, expressing identity is political, uncomfortable, and thus prohibited at Kettle Moraine School District, Milwaukee's ABC affiliate WISN reports.
“The expectation is that teachers and administration will not have political flags or religious messaging in their classroom or on their person. This expectation includes Pride flags,” Plum said at a school board meeting last week, according to the outlet. He also prohibited displays of Black Lives Matter, Back the Badge, and Make America Great Again.
For Plum, the policy includes pronouns in teachers’ email signatures, suggesting that the district isn’t as concerned with how students perceive “political” messages as they are with how parents respond.
In an attempt to clarify Plum’s statements and whether he saw people’s identities as equivalent to political slogans, The Advocate reached out to him, but he did not respond in time for publication.
The school board president, Gary Vose, did not respond to The Advocate’s inquiries either, but his out-of-office notification indicated that he was on vacation.
However, school board member Jim Romanowski, who previously expressed to WISN that he disagreed with the ban on these topics or expressions, told The Advocate that he stands by his opposition.
“I absolutely believe that our students have the ability to use their critical thinking skills” in matters of identity and politics, he said.
“Especially at the high school level,” Romanowski added. He said that while he could not comment since he had been reminded that all media inquiries should go to the school board president, it was up to the president to set the agenda for the next meeting, held on August 16.
“I expect this issue to be on the agenda and discussed then,” Romanowski said.
Last week, the Kettle Moraine school board voted on the policy, with proponents stating that schools should not allow political or religious messages.
“We’re in a world where politics are highlighted,” Plum said. “It just puts people in uncomfortable positions.”
In a statement to WISN in which he links several unrelated things, Plum said, “We will review practices pertaining to and supporting children and families on issues of transgender, sexual orientation, self-harm, and pregnancy.”
The policy affecting staff is set to take effect at the beginning of the school year in September.
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