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Newly Elected School Board Member Wants All LGBTQ+ Symbols Removed

Joseph Padilla of Wilson County schools
Joseph Padilla via Screengrab/WSMV

To justify removing the symbols, he cited far-right talking points and other false conspiracy theories about the sexualization of children.

MOUNT JULIET, Tennessee (WSMV) -- A Wilson County school board member says LGBTQ flags and stickers along with other symbols that represent a group or belief should be taken out of classrooms.

And newly elected school board member, Joseph Padilla, said he is looking to create school policy around that matter.

Padilla said the genesis of the move was concerns brought to him by parents who say those LGBTQ flags or stickers shouldn't be in the classrooms.

"This isn't Joe's opinion, this is Wilson County's opinion," Padilla said. "They elected me. And when I spoke with them, a lot of them had problems using taxpayer's money, their money for a building we're displaying things that they feel shouldn't be there."

"A lot of parents feel that society is over-sexualizing anything as it is and they feel the school should be the sanctuary that doesn't have any of that stuff in it. It should be about geometry or English or history," he added.

Padilla said he also feels those symbols don't belong in a classroom where there should be uniformity.

I feel that each class should be an equalizer for all students and we shouldn't promote one group in front of another," Padilla said

And that's the point the school board member said he is trying to make.

"It should be somewhere they go to learn and don't have to look at something they might not agree with that lifestyle," Padilla said.

"I think that there shouldn't be extra hurdles placed in front of a child seeking a public health resource," said Erin Moore, a parent with children in the school district and has a child in the LGBTQ Community.

Moore said the stickers are a health resource to help LGBTQ students who could be dealing with things like depression or other issues.

"The safe space stickers are a public health issue and they are something that is there to help certain kids with that public health issue," Moore said. "My kids do go to school at a place where the safe space Stickers are present and it is a positive thing and they have spoken positively about it," she added.

Padilla is open to having the wall art on campus; just not in the classroom.

"Moving them to a lobby where anybody can go to them if they would like and maybe put a list of safe space teachers," Padilla said. "So if they could get a special card for the room numbers of safe space that's fine," he added

Padilla also suggested a different type of neutral safe space sticker that could maybe go in classrooms.

"Not everyone is a safe space and not everyone can be a safe space. It's not that they're not good teachers. It's not that they're not good people but they are not that resource and to put up that kind of a sticker when they're not going to be a safe space for a child in need is dangerous," Moore said.

Padilla said currently the school district has no policy that allows schools teachers and principals to know what's allowable and what's not

"I will be proposing a policy that will lay out, these are allowed in the classroom, these aren't and the other board members will get that. They can amend it, they can take away they can add and then we vote," Padilla said

"Families feel unsafe. They don't feel safe speaking out. They don't feel safe living here and this is adding to that problem," Moore said.

Other school board members are keeping quiet on the matter, instead choosing to discuss any issue that may come to a vote in the board room with public notice given.

The school board meets early in November.

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